LA public officials warn of illegal fireworks use

Watermelon that is wired for detonation at the illegal fireworks demonstration, July 1, 2010.
Watermelon that is wired for detonation at the illegal fireworks demonstration, July 1, 2010. Shirley Jahad/KPCC

Los Angeles city and county officials gathered today to remind the public of the dangers of setting off illegal fireworks during Fourth of July weekend celebrations.

To drive home the point, public safety personnel demonstrated how illegal fireworks pose a risk of serious bodily injury by blowing up a watermelon. The event at the Los Angeles Fire Department's Frank Hotchkin Memorial Training Center was attended by Mayor Villaraigosa, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck.

L.A. County Sheriff's bomb squad detective Ed Nordskog said the bomb squad will receive around 30 calls per day over the July Fourth weekend.

"On the Fourth we have a lot of fires and injuries caused by fireworks or fireworks that have been manufactured into bomb devices, so we're pretty busy with bomb squad calls," Nordskog said.

The department will have double the amount of technicians on duty 24 hours a day, Nordskog said.

Possession or use of fireworks can range from a fine of up to $1,000, to jail for up to one year, authorities said. Fireworks such as M-80’s and M-100’s are considered explosives and are a felony to possess and carry penalties that can be as high as 16 months in state prison. Parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks, county officials said.

L.A. County Fire Inspector Keith Wood said the public should visit a public display of a professional fireworks show because lighting fireworks is both illegal and dangerous.

"Trying to celebrate this wonderful holiday on the Fourth it's not a great thing to have someone get hurt or have a fire started."

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