Sheriff's department: light fireworks, face fines

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside County residents were reminded today that lighting fireworks during the Fourth of July -- or anytime -- was strictly prohibited in all but a few locations within the county, and individuals who choose to ignore the law could face steep fines.

``All fireworks, including sparklers, are illegal in Riverside County,'' said sheriff's Sgt. Lisa McConnell. ``All fireworks are illegal because they cause serious injuries and very often, cause fires. Riverside County has very diverse terrain. The vegetation is very dry, and fireworks can easily start a brush fire.''

Residents are prohibited from using any type of pyrotechnic devices except in Blythe, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Indio, where so-called ``safe and sane'' fireworks can be sold to the public.

The devices, which must meet state fire marshal certification, generally do not explode or fly and include ground spinners, fountains, snappers and caps. Municipalities can authorize fireworks demonstrations 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 one year in jail.

According to county fire officials, any person who triggers a brush fire because of the illegal use of fireworks will be held responsible for all suppression costs.

``Protecting the safety of the public is a top priority, and we enforce a `zero tolerance' policy with regard to citizens in possession of illegal fireworks,'' McConnell said. ``We urge you to leave the fireworks to the professionals.''

A list of countywide fireworks shows can be found here: http://www.rvcfire.org/Documents/2013%20Fireworks%20Shows.pdf

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