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Keeping the Fourth of July fun, safe for all



Fourth
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Valley Center officials would like to remind residents that personal use of fireworks is illegal in San Diego County.
July 02, 2014
As the Fourth of July approaches, officials in San Diego County are reminding residents that fireworks are illegal unless at a professionally run, licensed show.

In a recent press release, Valley Center Fire Marshal George Lucia said that fireworks, firecrackers, and "consumer" fireworks are extremely dangerous and unpredictable, capable of causing serious burns and disfiguring injuries. Additionally, fireworks can easily ignite dry brush, grasses, and dead tree material due to current, severe dry conditions and low fuel moistures in Valley Center's native vegetation.

"All fireworks, including "consumer" fireworks or "safe and sane" fireworks are illegal in San Diego County," Lucia said adding that "consumer" fireworks include cone fountains, cylindrical fountains, roman candles, sky rockets, firecrackers, mines and shells, helicopter-type rockets, sparklers, poppers, and revolving wheels. "The San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the Local Fire Marshal has the authority to seize these fireworks and to cite and/or arrest those bearing them."

Lucia said he is worried since there isn't a public sanctioned display on the fourth of July, which could cause many people to attempt to put on their own fireworks show.

"With the dry weather we are terrified they are going to start fires," Lucia said, noting that patrols will be stepped up over the holiday weekend.

"It's going to mean manpower out there," he said. "We can take them from you and cite you; then you'll have to go to court. The bigger issue in my mind is if you start a fire, you are responsible for the cost to put that fire out."

Paying for suppression of a wildfire can cost hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars. The cost for the Highway wildfire that broke out near state Route 76 and Old Highway 395 in May of this year is currently estimated to have been nearly $917,000. In that fire stretches of Interstate 15, Highway 76, and Old Highway 395 were closed for several hours, snarling traffic and disrupting the commute for tens of thousands of people. No injuries or structural damage was reported from the 380-acre blaze.

Lucia said he doesn't think people really understand the risk they take when setting off illegal fireworks.

"I don't believe people understand the liability they take when they start a fire," Lucia said. "A lot of the time we deal with people who are out there partying all day and aren't making the best decisions and that is where we run into a problem."

Lucia said the best thing residents can do to ensure a safe Fourth of July is to attend a commercial fireworks show. While most major cities host fireworks shows to celebrate the nation's birthday, the closest show to Valley Center is Escondido's 50th annual Independence Day Celebration. Complete with musical performances, baton twirlers, the 1st Marine Division Band and fireworks, this is one event that promises to deliver Fourth of July festivities in a safe, yet fun manner.

Held at Grape Day Park located at 321 North Broadway, and presented by California Center for the Arts in conjunction with American Legion Post 149, the City of Escondido, and the Escondido History Center, the event is sure to be fun for the entire family. Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and head on down to Escondido for a fun-filled, star spangled celebration. Gates open at 4 p.m. With a welcome by American Legion Post 149 and performances by Annette Da Bomb & D'Bomb Squad, HeartBreaker, YMCA Baton Twirlers, and the ever-popular 1st Marine Division Band, this celebration is one visitors will be sure to remember.

Children's Activities begin at 4 p.m. at the Depot Stage and food from Beachin' Boba, American Legion Post 149, CCAE Concessions and Sweet Sno will be available for purchase throughout the entire event. The Escondido History center will be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and offer free admission to those who seek to learn more about the history of this beautiful town. The fireworks display by Fireworks America will kick off at approximately 9 p.m.

If you go it's important to remember that no alcohol, barbeques, pop-up tents or pets will be allowed in the park.

According to Lucia's press release, local residents are encouraged to turn in fireworks or firecrackers to any one of the Valley Center Fire Protection District stations for proper disposal, no questions asked. Bring fireworks and firecrackers to either the Valley Center Fire Station 72 at 28234 Lilac Road or Fire Station 73 at 28205 N. Lake Wohlford Road.

"Leave the use of fireworks to trained pyrotechnic operators and crews," Lucia said.

For more information on Escondido's 50th annual Independence Day Celebration visit www.visitescondido.com.

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