Setting off fireworks can be a fun way to celebrate the Fourth of July — unless those fireworks are the illegal variety. That's when authorities will step in to hand out major fines.
In the city of Fresno, for instance, not only will illegal fireworks be confiscated but there also is a $1,000 fine for the possession or use of illegal fireworks.
"If a firework leaves the ground or explodes it is considered illegal in California," Koby Johns, Fresno Fire Department public information officer, says. "Every year the Fresno Fire Department sees an inordinate number of structure and grass fires as a direct result of illegal fireworks.
"Given the drought and recent rise in temperatures, we ask members of the public to be considerate of others and their property while celebrating our nation's independence."
To report illegal fireworks, call (888) 723-3484 or (559) 621-7000. Don't call 911 unless there is a fire or medical emergency.
Anyone shooting off fireworks should be careful. Here is a list of safety tips supplied by The National Council on Fireworks Safety when it comes to using consumer fireworks:
-- Only use fireworks outdoors.
-- Read the caution label before lighting.
-- Do not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
-- Parents and caretakers should supervise using fireworks.
-- Always have water ready.
-- Only use fireworks in an area where they are legal.
-- Never relight a dud. Wait 20 minutes, and then soak it in water.
-- Don't use homemade fireworks or illegal explosives.
-- Soak spent fireworks in water before placing them in an outdoor, fire-resistant garbage can away from buildings and flammable materials.
For a full list of consumer fireworks safety tips and a safety video from the National Council of Fireworks safety, go to FireworksSafety.org.
Don't be concerned if you don't set off all your fireworks. In the city of Fresno, the number of days fireworks can be sold is limited, but it's legal to set off fireworks 365 days a year. Just make sure to store the unused items in a dry space. Fireworks become dangerous when they get wet and should be disposed of properly.