Fourth of July Fireworks, Drought Put Bay Area Firefighters on High Alert

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Fireworks, coupled with the extreme drought, has firefighters on high alert this Fourth of July. NBC Bay Area's Kimberly Tere reports from Dublin.

    Fireworks, coupled with the extreme drought, has firefighters on high alert this Fourth of July.

    Some parks in the Bay Area have designated areas for setting off safe and sane fireworks. While police keep an eye on those setting off fireworks, others are patrolling the neighborhoods for illegal fireworks in an effort to keep people safe this Fourth of July.

    "It only takes a few seconds for a firework that is set off in an area that is not conducive to having fireworks, and then with the dry vegetation, a gust of wind comes up, picks it up, the next thing you know, it’s off and moving and out of control," Cal Fire Battalion Chief Brandon Leitzke said.

    For many, setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July is tradition, even though only about a dozen Bay Area Cities allow it--as long as they are the safe and sane kind.

    "I like fireworks because they have a bunch of colors and they’re very interesting," Victoria Gryko of Moraga said.

    Although some people believe fireworks are fun, with all the sparks and whistles comes a stern warning from fire officials to be vigilant about safety, both when lighting the fireworks and deciding where to light them.

    "It’s a dry area in Castro Valley," resident Adina McDonald said. "There’s always fire danger signs all over the place. So, we don’t light anything near there. We stay here."

    "Droughts are a huge issue, especially with all the dry grass and fires in general," another resident Chris Knight said. "Our firefighters are already stretched. Don’t want to tax them anymore."

    In Petaluma Friday, firefighters worked quickly to put out a two-acre grass fire that broke out in the area behind the Santa Rosa Junior College campus.

    Firefighters said four minors, who were seen running from the scene, have been detained and are being questioned.

    Petaluma is one of the only cities in Sonoma County that allows the safe and sane sale of fireworks, which may have been the cause of the two-acre grass fire.