Early on Monday Cal Fire concluded a multi-agency operation designed to prevent illegal fireworks from entering California.
The two-part operation resulted in the confiscation of more than 13,000 pounds of illegal fireworks.
“There is no excuse for breaking the law when it comes to fireworks. Illegal fireworks and pyrotechnics can cause devastating injuries and damage to property,” said California State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover.
Two families in San Bernardino found that out early Sunday morning when their duplex was destroyed by a fire reportedly caused by illegal fireworks.
The interdiction operations were conducted at the California Agricultural checkpoints in Yermo (north of Barstow), Needles, in the community of Shoshone and the Death Valley area.
The coordinated multi-agency operation resulted in five felony arrests including one for driving under the influence, 46 misdemeanor arrests and numerous citations for vehicle code violations.
During the operation, officers made a total of 170 contacts. The operation also led to the execution of a search warrant in the city of Los Angeles where a large amount of illegal fireworks were believed to be stored.
“This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when cooperating agencies work together to prevent illegal activities and protect public safety,” said Hoover.
The agencies that cooperated with Cal Fire law enforcement officers included the California Agricultural Checkpoints at Yermo and Needles, the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Inyo County District Attorney’s Office, California Highway Patrol offices in Bishop and Barstow, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, San Bernardino County Fire Department, United States Forest Service, Southern Inyo Fire Protection District and the Caltrans Shoshone Office.
“One thing is for certain; the fireworks that have been confiscated will not start a disastrous wildfire, set a home on fire or send a young child to the emergency room,” said Hoover.
Officials ask state residents to remember that illegal fireworks are just that – illegal.
Safe and sane fireworks are to only be used in approved localities. The public needs to understand that it is illegal to transport, possess, use or store even safe and sane fireworks in communities and rural areas that don’t allow their use.
In Lake County, safe and sane fireworks may only be used within the boundaries of the city of Lakeport during a short period of time around the July 4 holiday.
Safe and sane does not mean non-dangerous.
According to statistics from the U. S. Consumer Product Safety Commission more than 50 percent of fireworks injuries in 2011 were due to the inappropriate use of fireworks.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission also says that the vast majority of injuries are caused by fireworks that are illegal in California.
Be fire safe by being fire smart and have a safe July 4.