'It's not worth it:' Santa Clara County campaign discourages using illegal fireworks

South Bay fire departments say they’re working together to educate people about the dangers of illegal fireworks, as the 4th of July approaches. Unauthorized fireworks cause severe injuries and fires each year.   

July 4th is less than a week away and fire officials across the Bay Area are reminding people that they're breaking the law if they use fireworks of any kind at home.  

"All fireworks, even those labeled safe and sane, are illegal to use in most of Santa Clara County and all the city of San Jose," said Erica Ray, San Jose Fire Dept. Public Information Manager.   

It may seem like no big deal to light a few sparklers on Independence Day but fire agencies in San Jose and throughout Santa Clara County say people should think about everyone’s overall safety instead.  

"There are several legal fireworks shows occurring. There are two in San Jose and several more planned throughout the County of Santa Clara. So, we’re really encouraging our residents attend those professional fireworks displays," Ray said.   

The National Fire Protection Association says that more than 19,500 fires are started by fireworks each year across the country. About 4,000 people are treated in emergency rooms around the 4th of July and sparklers make up about 25% of those injuries. Ray says dry weather also makes it more dangerous to use fireworks at home.  

"With the drought-stressed vegetation that’s out there in the community, a park, or a freeway off-ramp. All of those areas are prone to fires, especially if there are embers flying from illegal fireworks," Ray said.  

Banners displaying "It’s Not Worth It" have been placed throughout Santa Clara County as part of a campaign discouraging the use of fireworks. Fire officials are also asking people to take photos and video to report illegal fireworks online.                                                                                                                                                      

"If an emergency response from police or fire are dispatched to that location, that homeowner or property owner will be held responsible for the emergency response costs," Ray said.   

If someone is caught using fireworks in San Jose or throughout most of Santa Clara County, Ray says the fines range from $1,000 to $3,000 and there's possible jail time if someone's caught selling illegal fireworks.