Black Cat Bottle Rockets, Clustering Bees, Flying Butterflies. Illegal fireworks are called a number of things. They look pretty harmless and create a spectacle when shot off. But illegal fireworks are dangerous and could be lethal.
Clovis Fire Chief Lee Craft explained how an illegal firework misfired, “When they lit it, it went right to stage two. Stage one misfired, so it was never launched and all the energy was released right out here. So you could imagine, if this was in your backyard or front driveway and some kids were around, this will definitely kill you.”
It was a misfire that happened one too many times this Fourth of July. Fire crews received 191 calls for service for fireworks, in Fresno and surrounding areas.
“What we saw was a significant increase in just the number of fires caused by illegal fireworks. Some of our enforcement activity actually had to get pulled off some enforcement to go help with the fires,” explained Fresno Fire Deputy Chief Michael Despain.
He said in a span of about seven hours, fire crews responded to 72 fires. Despain said ,”Fifteen of those were significant incidents, working fires and mathematically, that's about the same number of working fires that we'll respond to in about a month, so about a month's worth of work in 5-7 hours. It was a busy night.”
Fire crews confiscated 51 pounds of illegal fireworks and issued nine citations.
“The reality of it is, they could of easily used safe and sane fireworks in a proper way and had a great fourth of July,” said Despain.
Fortunately, no one was hurt from the fires. The estimated loss is $30,500.
In Visalia, five fires were sparked by fireworks over the 4th of July. The Visalia Fire and Police Departments confiscated 100 pounds of illegal fireworks and issued three citations.