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Extreme Drought Adds Danger to Fourth of July

For more than two hundred years, Americans have been celebrating the 4th of July with parades, picnics and the exploding of bright and colorful fireworks in the skies above the nation.

It’s a “patriotic” pastime that can pose a substantial danger to land and limb.

Over the years, the fireworks available to consumers have become increasingly powerful, rivaling what one used to only see in professional firework displays. They can be heard and seen for days, even weeks, before and after the 4th of July holiday weekend.

It has at times seemed futile for police to try to enforce the ban by the City of Los Angeles’ and many other local municipalities on individuals setting off fireworks, especially since the cities that have banned local sales of fireworks have had little success keeping them out.

Why?

Because many neighboring cities allow the sale and use of so-called “Safe and Sane” fireworks, making them readily available to anyone willing to drive a few blocks to buy them.

Every year, the skies above Los Angeles are clouded with the smoke of illegal and dangerous fireworks bought from underground vendors and safe and sane fireworks stands just across city borders. Firefighters and emergency room doctors are bombarded with calls for help when things go awry, and people are injured.

Yet, it seems most people do not fear fireworks and feel they can control the explosives.

In our view, there is no such thing as “Safe and Sane” when it comes to fireworks. The risk they pose to the community, in terms of loss of property and bodily injury, is potentially too high a cost for a few minutes of entertainment.

And this year, there’s even more reason to not allow individuals to put on their own firework displays. Severe drought conditions have left our hillsides, parks, trees, grass and brush all over the county very dry and brittle, dramatically raising the risk of fires close to home.

These conditions are a threat to every neighborhood, to every home in every neighborhood, so residents should think seriously about the potential deadly practice of combining flammable materials and fireworks for a few minutes of fun.

We are disappointed by the number of local city councils that failed to adopt fireworks bans this year given these extreme conditions. Not to mention the large amount of water it takes to put out a fire.

Public safety agencies are already receiving reports of homemade bombs and firecrackers being exploded, yet it’s likely most people just don’t have enough common sense to report those using illegal fireworks in their neighborhoods.

Enlightened self-interest should tell us that it could be our home, school or neighborhood that goes up in flames when a spark from a seemingly harmless sparkler is carried through the air.

This year let the professionals put on the show.