Fireworks danger on display in ConFire demonstration

With an “unprecedented” explosion of fireworks last year still leaving echoes, Contra Costa Fire Protection District crews showed Thursday just how quickly that a single firework can erupt into a disaster.

They hope the message hits home hard with those who may be inclined to set them off on the Fourth of July and the weeks leading up to it.

“They’re illegal, they’re dangerous, and they shouldn’t be used,” Fire Chief Lewis Broschard of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District said at the demonstration. “Period!”

Fire Chief Lewis Broschard of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, urges residents not to use fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches. 

At the demonstration, a single safe and sane fountain firework — the type that sounds like rapid gunfire — lit an entire roof on fire. Such fireworks — including sparklers — can similarly torch a house, officials said, and it happens slowly but with destructive effects.

“That’s a common scenario, where it smolders for hours in a gutter or in a nook of a roof, and then all of a sudden it takes off,” fire spokesman Steve Hill said. “We’ll get a call, but in 3 or 4 minutes, that house can be a total loss.”

Here are three things you need to know about the dangers of fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches.

Fireworks are more dangerous than ever

Broschard said more people got their hands on more illegal fireworks than ever in 2020 — a result perhaps of all live shows being shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic and excess supply ending up on the black market, authorities theorized. He also said he’s nervous about how people will respond to a Fourth without restrictions.

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“The instances and the types of the use of illegal fireworks and the number of people using them was unprecedented” in 2020, Broschard said. He called the outbreak of illegal fireworks “prolific.”

A person using illegal fireworks caused a two-alarm fire that destroyed eight apartment units in Antioch and displaced 40 people at an Antioch apartment complex last month.

“It’s not just a problem in Contra Costa County,” he said. “This is a state-wide issue, and we are not immune.”

The conditions couldn’t be much more hazardous

Fire officials throughout the state agree that fire season has arrived earlier than ever and that vegetation already dry from drought conditions will only get more so as temperatures go up with the summer.

Broschard said his county will man its Emergency Operations Center on the Fourth of July and is hoping to avoid a repeat of a year ago, when it nearly ran out of resources because of all the calls.

Even scarier, some of the illegal fireworks being used were ones that Broschard said he’s rarely seen the public have.

“Some were almost commercial grade,” he said. “The kind that fly high in the air before they explode.”

Here’s what you can do to stop illegal fireworks

In Contra Costa County, all fireworks are illegal, including safe-and-sane fireworks such as sparklers.

“Fireworks are not legal anywhere in Contra Costa County and haven’t …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News

      

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