Calif. FFs Worry About Fireworks

SAN DIEGO -- With the Fourth of July approaching, local firefighters said they are concerned with the ease in which many people -- especially children -- are getting illegal fireworks.

Summer is just getting under way and brush fires have kept San Diego County firefighters busy. Last week, a brush fire in Carmel Valley was apparently started by children playing with fireworks.

10News spoke to John Wood, a commander with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's Bomb Squad, and he cited a recent case where authorities learned an ice cream truck vendor sold fireworks to kids in front of Bethune Elementary School in the Paradise Hills area.

"He was selling 'Party Snaps.' When you throw them on the ground, they make a loud rapport and a bit of a spark," said Wood.

Wood said kids were also able to buy smoke balls, which require a lighter to start, and bomb bags, which may not require a lighter to set off but can still be a danger to kids.

"To activate the bomb bag, you basically squeeze the bag, it'll break, chemical reaction " Wood said prior to the bag exploding during a demonstration.

The state of California considers these "safe and sane" fireworks, and while some stores are authorized to sell them, they are technically illegal to use in San Diego County.

"Yeah, it's surprising they can sell it in a place that they're illegal to use, but it does happen. If they got the permit, they can sell them, but you can't use them," said Wood.

The law also applies to fireworks purchased in another state or another country such as Mexico.

Authorities said every year from mid-June to mid-July, agents conduct roughly 2,000 seizures of fireworks at San Diego's border crossings. In comparison, the county has about 500 seizures during the entire year.

Fire officials said whether it is an M-80 explosive or something as small as Party Snaps, both are equally capable of starting a fire during San Diego's hot and dry summer months.

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