Law enforcement and fire prevention officers across the Mother Lode are reminding the public about the varying rules and regulations governing the use of fireworks.
While legal in some parts of Calaveras County, fireworks are outlawed throughout Tuolumne County and the Stanislaus National Forest.
Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Wilson said it’s not only illegal to set off the fireworks, but the mere possession of any type of firework is outlawed as well.
A violation of the county ordinance against fireworks is a misdemeanor, which can be punishable by a fine and up to a year in jail.
“It’s an extreme fire hazard and homes could be lost in fires that get started,” Wilson said. “We want everyone to be safe, have a good time and not have disasters like that occur.”
Wilson said the Sheriff’s Office issues the most citations for possessing or setting off fireworks on or around July 4 and New Year’s Eve.
“When we get called out on something like that we’ll confiscate all of the fireworks and cite the owner,” he said.
Wilson said it is no surprise for deputies to come across fireworks when they’re legally sold in both Oakdale and parts of Calaveras County.
The U.S. Forest Service issued a statement on Wednesday reminding the public that it’s illegal to use or possess any fireworks or pyrotechnic devices in the Stanislaus National Forest.
“It’s a much drier start to the season than we had in the past and it’s appropriate for us to remind people to leave those fireworks at home or go to a place where it’s legal to use them,” said Forest Service spokesman Jerry Snyder.
He said rangers will be on the lookout, but it’s rare for people to bring fireworks to the forest.
Cal Fire prevention officers will patrol both Tuolumne and Calaveras counties on July 4 watching out for people violating fireworks regulations in their respective counties, said Cal Fire spokeswoman Lisa Williams.
“They are on a heightened alert,” she said.
Residents can go to any Cal Fire station to dispose of unused fireworks or make sure ones they have purchased are legal, according to Williams.
Any fireworks that become airborne are prohibited in Calaveras County, said Fire Prevention Specialist Nancy Longmore.
Longmore said fireworks that are legal will feature a “safe and sane” label on the package. She added that parts of the county, including the Ebbetts Pass and Central fire districts, have outlawed all fireworks.
Despite the legal status in certain areas, Cal Fire still encourages residents to attend a public fireworks show rather than light them off at home. There are annual Independence Day fireworks shows at both Ironstone Vineyards and Lake Don Pedro.
Longmore advised residents planning to set off legal fireworks to do so in a cleared area where there is no grass, leaves or other vegetation that can catch on fire and to have a bucket of water or charged hose nearby.