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Officials encourage safe driving, following fireworks rules on holiday

Fireworks only legal in three cities in Placer County
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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With Fourth of July nearly upon us, local officials are reminding residents to be careful on the roads and know that even safe and sane fireworks are not allowed everywhere. Chief Mark D’Ambrogi, of the Auburn Fire Department, said Auburn residents need to keep in mind the local rules about fireworks. “There are basically two kinds of fireworks,” D’Ambrogi said. “There is typically what are called the ‘safe and sane.’ Those are the ones that are sold at nonprofit groups in certain areas and those are definitely not allowed here in Auburn or the surrounding Placer County unincorporated area.” D’Ambrogi said the second kind, firecrackers, are illegal and are not allowed anywhere. There is a basic reason for Auburn’s rules, D’Ambrogi said. “It’s due to the wildland urban interface and the high fire danger,” he said. “If Fourth of July wasn’t in the middle of summer it would be a different situation. But this is the sierra foothills and we are prone to wildfire, and we don’t need any more potential ignition sources than we already have.” D’Ambrogi said safety is also a big factor. Auburn has plenty of other family-friendly ways to celebrate the holiday, D’Ambrogi said. “You have got the big parade … there are usually activities at the fairgrounds where the parade ends, and then we have the big fireworks public display,” he said. The Auburn Fire Department will be enforcing fireworks rules Monday night, D’Ambrogi said. “Typically what we run into is people who shop in those cities (that allow fireworks) buy them and bring them up here and say, ‘We are going to have a block party,’” he said. “No, you cannot do that. We will politely tell them they cannot do that and if need be we’ll confiscate, and if really need be they will be cited.” D’Ambrogi said anyone who starts a fire as a result of fireworks will be held responsible for the cost of the incident. Daniel Berlant, spokesman for Cal Fire, said the only cities in Placer County where fireworks are allowed are Lincoln, Rocklin and Roseville. “Taking them outside of those three city limits makes them illegal,” Berlant said. “Even if they were legally purchased in those cities.” Berlant said consequences for having illegal fireworks are pretty harsh. Fines can be as high as $50,000 and offenders could serve up to a year in jail. According to Officer Todd Rayback, with the Lincoln Police Department, Fourth of July “is one of the deadliest holidays of the year when it comes to alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities.” “In fact, 410 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally during the Fourth of July weekend in 2009,” Rayback said. “Of that number, 40 percent involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 grams per deciliter or higher. In California, seven were killed in DUI wrecks in 2009 while another 352 were injured in alcohol involved collisions.” In an effort to crack down on this weekend’s drunk drivers, the Placer County Avoid the 7 campaign will be enforcing sobriety and driver’s license checkpoints and DUI saturation patrols, Rayback said. The California Highway Patrol’s maximum enforcement period begins at 6 p.m. Friday and continues through 11:59 p.m. Monday, according to the Gold Run Division of the Highway Patrol. According to the division, on last year’s July 4th, 23 people were killed statewide and the CHP made 1,438 arrests for driving under the influence. For those who live in cities where fireworks are illegal, the Placer SPCA is encouraging residents to keep their pets in mind. “With fireworks on sale already, be prepared now to keep your companion animals safe,” said Leilani Vierra, chief executive officer of the Placer SPCA. ”Fireworks set off near your home can panic your dog or cat, and in trying to get away from the noises they can become disoriented and lost. It is important to remember that many people set off fireworks a few days after the holiday as well.” Vierra said many local shelters, including the Placer SPCA see an increase in stray animals in the first week of July. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Tips from Cal Fire on how to stay safe with fireworks if you live in a city that allows them: • Check that fireworks are allowed in the area of use • Make sure the firework has the State Fire Marshal “safe and sane” seal • Purchase only from legitimate organizations authorized to sell • Have a bucket of water, sand or garden hose available at firing site • Read all instructions before use • Dispose of used fireworks in water • Never alter, modify or enhance fireworks • Make sure fireworks have proper clearance from flammable materials including dry grass and brush