Heat, low humidity means fire danger on 4th of July
LOS ANGELES -- With the current hot weather and the 4th of July coming up, local officials are warning Southlanders about the dangers of fireworks.
In the Angeles National Forest, safe and sane fireworks are illegal. Still, forest officials are very concerned that there could be a major brush fire this upcoming holiday because the fire danger has been raised to "very high." The dry brush and high temperatures just add fuel to that danger.
Safe and sane fireworks are legal in many areas in Southern California, particularly in the Inland Empire. Those who are purchasing the fireworks are being advised to use them responsibly in appropriate areas.
Forest officials are concerned that people may buy the fireworks in those legal jurisdictions and then bring them into forest areas, creating the potential for major disaster.
"With this very low humidity that we have and the dry temperatures and the fuels, rapid fire growth can start very quickly. So if you have a small fire, it can get large very quickly unless you put it out fast," said Nathan Judy with the U.S. Forest Service.
The U.S. Forest Service says there will be extra patrols dispatched over the holiday weekend to look for violators.
Fireworks already caused more than $2,000 worth of damage at a carpet business in Walnut Park on Monday. Authorities say it's the first of many calls to come this holiday weekend.
"Last year alone, your Los Angeles Fire Department responded to 9 percent more calls for service on 4th of July," said Chief Bryan Cummings with the L.A. City Fire Department.
At the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday morning, city leaders warned people of the dangers of even safe and sane fireworks by urging people to come to the annual fireworks show at the Coliseum, where the fun is safe and free.
"We want to ensure that we have a safe program, but we also want to encourage people not to go outside the city limits and buy fireworks, bring them in and the next day, we hear about the tragedies of lost limbs and eyes," said Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard Parks.
Fireworks of all types are illegal in the city and county of Los Angeles. Fireworks stands sell only safe and sane fireworks, but the manager of a stand in Huntington Park says customers are always asking for something else.
"They always want fireworks that go up in the sky, but we don't have those, those are illegal," said Vanessa, the manager of Phantom Fireworks.
Even sparklers pose a huge risk, say officials.
"Those little sparklers that look so innocent are burned at over 4,000 degrees and can instantly cause a debilitating injury or burn to a small child," said Cummings.
Authorities want to reiterate that even safe and sane fireworks are illegal in the city of Los Angeles and unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County. If you're caught using them, the fine is about $1,000.
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