Fireworks spark fewer Bay Area fires over July 4 weekend
CORDELIA, Calif. - Traditional June gloom weather in the Bay Area that spilled over into July was a key factor in fireworks-related fires over the holiday weekend.
Before noon Tuesday, a wildfire exploded on Cordelia's Nelson Hill, challenging firefighters who eventually contained the blaze.
"It was quickly moving, wind driven, got to be very large very quickly," said Cordelia Fire Chief Dave Carpenter. "We whipped it up to four alarms plus we got Cal Fire. So we hit it hard and aggressive."
The chief mentioned one firefighter was injured.
"He's in the hospital now with a back injury," he added.
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Confire, the large East Bay fire agency for Contra Costa County, shared numbers. Over the whole holiday period, Confire responded to 79 calls, down 18% percent from last year's 96 calls over the same period.
"We did see our call volume was down a little
bit over the weekend prior to the Fourth, but, actually on the 4th of July, the number really picked back up." said Contra Costa Fire Marshal Chris Bachman.
We won't know for sure until all fire agencies report, but it looks as if two main factors made a positive difference in lower than number of Bay Area fires.
First and foremost, Mother Nature played a big role with cooler, more humid weather, and not so much wind in the immediate Bay Area.
"With how high the humidities were, the weather somewhat cooperated, and it kind of did help to reduce the number of incidents related to fireworks," said Santa Rosa Fire Department Fire Marshal Paul Lowenthal.
Also noting the higher humidity, Cal Fire Division Chief Richard Sampson agreed.
"It definitely was down partly because of the weather. Humidity was up. I was working the coast. So, we're in the fog," said Chief Sampson.
The second likely main reason fire numbers were down has to do with a clear lack of supply of fireworks, legal and illegal. We got our first hint of this on June 29, the day fireworks stands opened up in Dublin.
"A lot of the assortment packs are still locked up at the ports, so what inventory we got now is definitely much more limited than it has been in the years past," said Jennifer Miller of the Dublin United Soccer League fireworks stand.
That also seems to have had a positive effect.
"It definitely seemed like there was fewer available. It almost seems like they weren't able to get them," said Chief Sampson. "Just from being out the last couple nights, working fireworks interdiction with several others, it seems to be down."
A big bust of fireworks by the San Pablo Police also helped.
"That really helped that area. We noticed that San Pablo numbers were down, but it just seemed like those kind of underground sales were going on prior to the Fourth that we had seen in years past," said Confire's Bachman.
The big worry now? People using their fireworks leftovers, especially as heat and dryness comes back this week.
"Definitely continues on for several days after the Fourth, for the people who haven't fully used what they have that they shouldn't have," said Fire Marshal Lowenthal.
Firefighters say they cannot overemphasize the importance of immediately notifying officials of any fireworks use going forward.