South Bay Firefighters on Alert for Illegal Fireworks

Fire crews already scanning neighborhoods for illegal fireworks

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Marianne Favro reports on an early warning for south bay residents from firefighters: don't light up illegal fireworks. (Published Friday, Jun 21, 2013)

    Dry and windy conditions continue across the Bay Area and that has fire officials taking some unusual steps as we head toward Fourth of July.

    Santa Clara County firefighters are busier than ever, which is why they are diligently listening to weather updates and checking the fuel moisture, humidity and winds regularly.

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    They say there is another risk they have more control over: Fireworks. Not the kind you see in a professional show, but the ones people light off in their backyard.

    "We take this seriously. We work with police departments to get out there and stop people using fireworks. Add it to dry grass and it’s a bad combination for us,” Santa Clara County fire spokesman Kendall Pearson said.

    A fire off Helyer Avenue in San Jose last week is proof. Investigators say the 3-acre fire was likely caused by fireworks.

    That is the reason San Jose firefighters are already on high alert.

    "San Jose is staffing up a number of additional rigs who are patrolling day and night to thwart the fireworks that may begin,” said San Jose Battalion Chief Barry Stallard.

    Stallard said people often buy fireworks in other cities and bring them back to San Jose. That is illegal.

    Specifically, the city of San Jose has a ban on sparklers. Stallard said sparklers get to 1,200 degrees, almost 1,000 degrees hotter than boiling water.

    Firefighters say, look around, that fire engine patrolling your street may be looking for fireworks, and if they catch you with them, you could face a $500 fine.