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Fireworks ignited 120-acre Pittsburg fire, chief says

KRON San Francisco logo KRON San Francisco 6/22/2022 Amy Larson
Fireworks ignited 120-acre Pittsburg fire, chief says © Provided by KRON San Francisco Fireworks ignited 120-acre Pittsburg fire, chief says

PITTSBURG, Calif. (KRON) — Fireworks ignited a four-alarm grassfire in Pittsburg last week that burned 120 acres, threatened 100 homes, and forced thousands of residents to evacuate, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District investigators revealed Wednesday.

San Francisco Bay Area fire officials are highly concerned about the possibility of more wildfires sparking as the Fourth of July holiday approaches. Fireworks once deemed ‘safe and sane’ are no longer safe because of California’s extreme drought.

“There are no ‘Safe & Sane’ fireworks, regardless of labeling, they are all dangerous and uncontrollable. The potential for serious injury posed by these illegal devices and the risk of causing catastrophic wildfires during this time of extremely high fire danger is great,” CCCFPD officials wrote.

“The only ‘safe and sane’ approach to fireworks in Contra Costa County is to simply not use them," said Fire Chief Lewis Broschard.

“As we saw just last week in Pittsburg, they are uncontrollable and dangerous, illegal, and their use – especially in our current drought conditions – is irresponsible posing the very real possibility of causing wildland fires that could easily destroy homes and threaten lives in this time of critically high fire risk,” Chief Broschard said.

The Pittsburg fire ignited at 2 a.m. on June 17 in an open space of grassland south of Jacqueline Drive. An unidentified person set off fireworks while winds were gusting at 30 miles-per-hour. Wind gusts fanned the flames. Firefighters raced to create defensible space around homes to protect houses from the approaching blaze. Crews successfully prevented injuries and structure damages.

Evacuation orders downgraded to warnings in Edgewood fire

Pittsburg Police Chief Brian Addington said, "Pittsburg police officers will be out in force this holiday rapidly responding to illegal fireworks calls. We have adopted a zero-tolerance policy and will cite or arrest anyone in violation of the city of Pittsburg Fireworks Ordinance."

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recently adopted a new fireworks ordinance cracking down on possessing, manufacturing, selling, or lighting fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county.

Property owners and boat owners are responsible for ensuring that fireworks are not used on their property. Violations of the ordinance are subject to a $100 fine, $200 fine for a second violation within one year, and $500 for each additional violation within one year.

Cities within the county also have fireworks ordinances that could cost violators thousands of dollars in fines.

Brentwood Police Department Captain Doug Silva said, "Unfortunately, this year we've already experienced a tragic accident as a result of children playing with illegal fireworks. Our goal is to ensure this doesn't happen again." Silva added.

Silva noted that organized, legal fireworks shows will be happening throughout the county and he encouraged fireworks enthusiasts to celebrate America’s independence safely by enjoying the shows.

District Attorney Diana Becton warned that her prosecutors will hold anyone who violates county and city fireworks laws accountable in court. Becton said, "Those who engage in acts of unlawful burning that put our communities in danger will face legal jeopardy."

Walnut Creek Police Chief Jamie Knox had a simple message for his city’s residents. “No fireworks means no fireworks,” Knox said.

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