Fire officials emphasize safety with fireworks

The Fresno BeeJuly 5, 2014 

Fresno-area fire officials display confiscated fireworks on Saturday, July 5, 2014.


After a fairly busy Fourth of July night, Fresno, Clovis and Fresno County fire officials on Saturday had one main piece of advice for the public: Be safe when using fireworks.

That also means not using illegal fireworks.

"Clearly, what makes illegal fireworks dangerous ... is their unpredictability," said Don MacAlpine, deputy fire marshal for the Fresno Fire Department. "Once they leave the ground, there's no control over where they're going to come down."

The fire officials said that illegal fireworks are the ones that leave the ground or make extremely loud noises. Fire agencies collected 64 pounds of illegal fireworks Friday night.

The three fire departments received 162 calls Fourth of July night.

"We managed fairly well, but were taxed at certain times," said Tim Henry, a Fresno Fire deputy chief.

At one point, 14 fire units were out on calls, leaving only 10 available units. Clovis Fire Department had fewer calls and backed up other agencies as needed, Henry said.

Of the Friday night fires, the one causing the most damage was to a wood roof that ignited from fireworks in the 6000 block of North Lodi Avenue. Estimated damage was about $75,000, Henry said. Firefighters confiscated both illegal and "safe and sane" fireworks from the residents.

Another firework-related blaze broke out near a rural neighborhood north of Easton where three acres of debris burned, Fresno County fire spokesman Ryan Michaels said. He estimated the damage was about $1,000.

A total of 25 firework citations were issued in fireworks-related incidents. Four were misdemeanor citations, and 11 were administrative. Firework citations typically cost about $1,000, and there is an added $200 fee for fire officials to dispose of fireworks, Henry said.

For fireworks deemed "safe and sane," fire officials said, it is important to use them as they are designed and to always supervise juveniles while the fireworks are lit.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6679 or

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