The Fourth of July is known for fireworks, but firefighters are urging residents to leave the light displays to the professionals.
“Leave the shows to the pros,” Capt. Steve Swindle with the Ventura County Fire Department said.
Fireworks are illegal everywhere in Ventura County except in Fillmore. Swindle said it’s important for residents to know the danger of dealing with fireworks, which, he said, could easily blow off a finger.
He said even innocent-seeming sparklers burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and are capable of causing instantaneous third-degree burns.
“They’re extremely dangerous,” he said.
And not just in terms of personal injury.
While the Thomas fire burned most of the vegetation in western Ventura County, Swindle said the open spaces surrounding East County cities like Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Moorpark have conditions that could explode into another large-scale conflagration.
“They’re bone dry and full of fuel,” he said. “It could happen.”
Last year, the Ventura County Fire Department reported there were no injuries caused by fireworks within its response area, which includes unincorporated areas of the county as well as the cities of Thousand Oaks, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Moorpark, Camarillo and Simi Valley. Swindle said the department would like to see another injury-free Fourth.
He said the department is launching a social media holiday safety campaign and working with local press outlets to encourage responsible celebrations.
At the June 19 Thousand Oaks City Council meeting, Mayor Andy Fox reminded residents that fireworks are illegal in the city. But, he said, every year police and firefighters respond to calls resulting from people who choose to disregard the prohibition.
“The damage done both physically and mentally on fireworks accidents every year is tragic to say the least,” Fox said.
Fox, an assistant chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department, invited the public to safely enjoy the fireworks show jointly hosted by the city and the Conejo Recreation and Park District each year. The annual fireworks spectacular begins at 9 p.m. Wednesday and is best viewed from The Oaks and Janss Marketplace parking lots.
In Calabasas, fireworks will be set off from the Calabasas High School football field, while in Westlake, the pyrotechnics will launch from Westlake Golf Course.
“Practice safe and sane, go out, watch your local fireworks show by professionals, enjoy your family and friends and have a safe Fourth of July holiday,” Fox said. “It’s a great opportunity as we come together to celebrate our country and our independence.”
Fillmore is the only city in Ventura County that allows the sale of fireworks, specifically, “safe and sane” fireworks that bear the seal of the state fire marshal. All other fireworks, including altered safe and sane fireworks and fireworks that explode or leave the ground are illegal.
For those who choose to travel to Fillmore, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department issued a series of simple guidelines to keep Independence Day celebrations safe. Individuals are advised to always have a bucket of water on hand to dispose of fireworks and a hose connected to water in case there’s a fire. Do not dispose of fireworks in trash containers and do not let children play with them.
Swindle said even “safe and sane” fireworks can be extremely dangerous.
“Adults need to set the example,” he said.
If you witness a crime or fire in progress involving illegal fireworks, call 911.
IN A NUTSHELL
Fireworks in the area
All show times are at 9 p.m.
Calabasas—Calabasas High School
Camarillo—Camarillo High School
Channel Islands—Channel Islands Harbor
Moorpark–Arroyo Vista Park on July 3
Simi Valley—Rancho Santa Susana Community Park
Thousand Oak—Hillcrest Center of the Arts
Westlake Village—Westlake Village Golf Course Driving Range