Firefighters warn Valley residents about dangers of illegal fireworks

Tuesday, June 23, 2020
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Planning to light illegal fireworks this Fourth of July? You're putting your family and your neighbors in danger, fire departments across the Central Valley are warning.

Firefighters are already dealing with an increase in calls regarding illegal fireworks weeks before the Fourth of July holiday.

"Just over the course of last week, we are seeing an uptick in illegal fireworks currently throughout the county," says Tulare County Fire Department Captain Joanne Bear.

In Mendota, the chief of police says it's illegal fireworks that landed a woman in jail after they claim she was selling them online.

Firefighters warn that vegetation is too dry, and when mixed with illegal fireworks, it's a recipe for a disastrous fire.

They also worry that with popular events like the fireworks at Shaver Lake, Bass Lake, and Atwater canceled due to the pandemic, people will try to recreate their own illegal firework shows.

"That taxes our resources and makes it difficult to respond to other emergencies like medical emergencies," says Merced City Deputy Fire Chief Casey Wilson.

Departments are being proactive.

Merced City fire says they have an expanded dispatch center during the holiday to help them handle the hundreds of calls they receive, while keeping an eye on certain areas.

"We used heat maps to determine the problem areas last year and we'll focus on those areas. When those calls for service come in, fire and police will respond to those areas," says Wilson.

Despite being short-staffed, Fresno Fire officials say they will be increasing the number of firefighters they have on during the holiday.

The department will discuss more on illegal fireworks and their efforts to take them off the streets on Thursday.