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Don't Be a Fresno Fireworks Dummy When Celebrating July 4th
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 10 months ago on
June 28, 2023

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Fourth of July is the least favorite holiday of the year for firefighters.

That’s because people with no regard for the safety of themselves and their neighbors set off illegal fireworks that burn homes, spark grassfires, and put people in the hospital — or six feet under.

That’s not hyperbole. Between 2006 and 2021, injuries from fireworks climbed 25% in the U.S., according to Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates. One-third of the injuries were burns. And, 61 people died between  2018 and 2021.

How to Enjoy Fireworks the Right Way

The responsible way to celebrate Independence Day is by viewing professionally staged community fireworks shows such as those coming up at Chukchansi Park, Lamonica Stadium in Clovis, Granite Park, and the Big Fresno Fair.

Another way to show your love for America is by only using certified “safe and sane” fireworks and following the safety tips below this story.

If you think it’s cool to shoot off bottle rockets and light firecrackers, you’re wrong. Before you strike that match, think instead of a child in a burn unit who was rushed to the trauma center after your bottle rocket struck a house or ignited a grass fire.

Every Available Fresno Firefighter Called Into Action in 2022

The challenge faced by firefighters is spelled out by the facts of what they faced on July 4, 2022.

A year ago, city firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire that damaged several Tower District homes, 41 grass fires, and 88 total fires. More than once during the night, every available firefighter and engine was involved in fire suppression.

In addition, Fresno police dispatchers received 309 fireworks-related calls from 4 p.m. on July 4 to 2 a.m. on July 5. In all, 90 citations for illegal fireworks were written.

Cal Fire Fresno was busy as well, responding to 41 fires started by fireworks causing $500,000 in damage. The department issued four citations, made one arrest, and confiscated 800 pounds of illegal fireworks.

Property Owners Face Citations

The Fresno Fire Department reminds residents:

  • A property owner is responsible for all activities that take place on their property and may receive a citation in the mail as a result of illegal fireworks use by a tenant.
  • The use of illegal fireworks, or even hosting an event where illegal fireworks are used, can result in a citation for $2,000, $3,000, or $5,000.
  • Large amounts of illegal fireworks can result in felony criminal charges and arrest.
  • Dedicated patrols, undercover buys, drones, and special details are cracking down on illegal fireworks possession and use.

Watch: Don’t Be a Fireworks Dummy

Tips for Proper Use of Safe and Sane Fireworks 

Tips to Celebrate Safely Never allow young children to play with or ignite fireworks, including sparklers. Sparklers burn at temperatures of about 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt some metals. Keep a bucket of water or a garden hose handy, in case of fire or other mishap. Light fireworks one at a time, then move quickly away from the fireworks device. Never try to relight or handle malfunctioning fireworks. Soak them with water and throw them away. Never place any part of your body directly over a fireworks device when lighting the fuse. Move to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks. Never point or throw fireworks (including sparklers) at anyone. After fireworks complete their burning, to prevent a trash fire, douse the spent device with plenty of water from a bucket or hose before discarding the device. Make sure fireworks are legal in your area, and only purchase and set off fireworks that are labeled for consumer (not professional) use. Never use fireworks while impaired by alcohol or drugs.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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