Public safety officials to demonstrate fireworks dangers

RIVERSIDE – The potential hazards and legal consequences of setting off fireworks in Riverside County will be highlighted Wednesday during a briefing by public safety officials.

Fireworks are generally banned countywide, except for in Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Indio, where so-called ”safe and sane” fireworks — those that don’t fly or explode — can be sold to the public.

On Wednesday, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Stone, county Fire Chief John Hawkins and sheriff’s Chief Deputy Shelley Kennedy-Smith will be among those on hand, along with pyrotechnic experts, to discuss the upcoming Fourth of July holiday and the risks of lighting fireworks.

The briefing is scheduled for 11 a.m. outside the Ben Clark Public Safety Training Center in Riverside.

Fire officials will demonstrate how much damage a firecracker can do to flesh and how easily recreational pyrotechnics can trigger a brush fire, especially with tinder-box conditions brought on by drought.

Cities can authorize fireworks displays, and the county grants permits for fireworks shows in unincorporated communities.

Under county Ordinance 858, fines for illegally storing, transporting or setting off fireworks can range from $500 to $1,000.

A violation is a misdemeanor. After a first offense, a repeat violator can be sentenced up to a year in jail.

According to county officials, any person who starts a brush fire by using fireworks will be held responsible for all suppression costs.

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