Illegal fireworks potential fuel for Bay Area wildfires

According to California Fireworks Network, 43 of the state's 58 counties, allow the sale and purchase of so-called "safe and sane" fireworks.

Then, there are the tidal waves of illegal fireworks as you've probably noticed for the past several evenings.

No major, legal fireworks displays, plus a stay-at-home order and cabin fever, plus an abundance of illegal fireworks, plus the kind of weather wildfires love is the perfect recipe.

Last night's 2.5 acre Oakland fire was due to illegal fireworks in a city that forbids them as is pretty much the case almost everywhere. In the Bay Area, only five of the nine counties allow "safe and sane" non-flying or exploding fireworks and in only 12 towns. They may be sold between June 28 and July 6 only as we saw at this stand in San Bruno where eighteen fireworks stands support local youth groups.

"All of the fires that have been created over fire works have been, 99% of them have been illegal fireworks," said David Morgan of the San Bruno Scout & Church Youth Boosters.

Fireworks were the suspected cause of a 1-alarm, three-acre wildfire in San Francisco on Monday, SF Fire Department said. 

Only San Bruno and Pacifica allow them In San Mateo County. In Alameda County, Dublin, Newark and Union City allow "safe and sane" fireworks. In Santa Clara County, only Gilroy. In Solano County , only in Dixon, Rio Vista and Suisun City. In Sonoma County, only Cloverdale, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol have OK'd them.

Where do the illegal fireworks come from? Dennis Revell is spokesman for the legal, safe and sane TNT Fireworks. Revell says most illegal fireworks these days appear to come through seaports from Asia, bound by truck to places where they are legal.

"Pick up fireworks that are legal in other states but are illegal here in California. But that container never makes it past or even to the California border," said Mr. Revell. Some go to Nevada where cars and trucks being them back to California. "Most of these people know when they can bring it across the border and run the smallest, if any risk of being caught," said Revell.

"Fireworks and fire season don't mix. They're really the potential worse kind of ignition sources for wildfire," said Cal Fire Deputy Chief Jonathan Cox. Compared to last year's late wet season, Cal Fire Reports 2,996 wildfires so far this year, that more than 1,200 fires than at the same point last year. In any year, fireworks legal and illegal are a factor.

"Conditions are dry. We're seeing unseasonably kind of frequent wind events over the last four weeks. There are more fireworks occurring across certain areas in the state and that's extremely alarming to us," said Deputy Chief Cox.

According to the American Pyrotechnics Association, Between 2000 and 2018, injuries declined by almost 56% thanks to better products and supervision.