Fireworks went on sale Sunday at . But, Bakersfield police and fire officials are warning people about the dangers of buying or making illegal fireworks.
It’s a danger to both safety, and this year, your bank account.
In the past, fines ranged from $300 to $400. Recently, that amount ballooned to nearly $1,500.
“It’s a huge increase because we’ve noticed people don’t seem to be getting the message. They’re not taking it seriously,” said Capt. Mike Lencioni with the Bakersfield Fire Department.
Fireworks can cause all kinds of damage. There’s the seemingly inconsequential, including a tree set on fire Sunday outside an apartment complex in Bakersfield.
Then, there’s the life-changing damage caused by firecrackers. On July 4th, 2004 Ray Reilly was killed by an illegal, modified firework.
Those who made the illegal firework were slapped with jail time and a $1.1 million lawsuit.
But, the Reilly family was left without a father.
“He taught us ever since we were little that they’re dangerous,” said Catie Reilly, Ray Reilly’s daughter, in June 2005. “There are certain ways to be safe about them and still have fun.”
One of the best ways to be safe and have fun is to simply buy legal fireworks that say they are “safe and sane” on the packaging.” You can almost guarantee you’re buying legal fireworks if they have a state seal on the box verifying the product has been approved by the State Fire Marshal.
On the flip side, illegal fireworks include those both physically and chemically modified by someone after he or she takes it out of its original packaging.
Also, aerial fireworks are not allowed.
“In Bakersfield we still have a significant number of homes with [old] roofs, and those become a huge issue for us because if those aerial fireworks land on top of those roofs, they can start fires,” said Capt. Lencioni.
One thing to keep in mind when purchasing fireworks is that the City of Bakersfield and the County of Kern have slightly different standards for what’s legal and what’s not.
For instance, you could buy something from a booth within county limits that is illegal within the city of Bakersfield.
You’re usually okay as long as the fireworks have the state seal of approval on them. But, to be absolutely sure it’s best if you ask your vendor where you’re allowed to set off a particular firecracker.