Fireworks displays closely monitored this year

Colfax celebration to do without annual pyrotechnics
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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The hugely popular Colfax fireworks display has been canceled for 2008. Auburn’s fireworks display, however, will blast off at 9:40 p.m. Friday. Colfax’s Fifth of July event will not include the fireworks that are a staple of the annual gathering. City Manager Joan Phillipe said the city called off the fireworks display because “there’s a lack of resources available,” she said. Her decision came after a meeting with Cal Fire Unit Chief Brad Harris. She explained that usually fire departments are available to put out any potential fires caused by fireworks. But this year, due to multiple wildland fires in the state, there are not as many fire crews available. Vince Sauter, Auburn Family Fourth coordinator, said barring any unforeseen circumstances, the celebration will conclude with a firework display. “Public safety is No. 1,” Sauter said. “It’s not so much that things are drier or different around where the fireworks are set as much as it’s whether safety personnel will need to be called out to other communities.” For residents in unincorporated parts of the county, setting off fireworks is off limits. There is a ban on fireworks in communities such as Alta, Applegate, Dutch Flat, Foresthill, Granite Bay, Meadow Vista, Newcastle, Penryn and Sheridan. In the North Lake Tahoe region, residents in Carnelian Bay, Homewood, Kings Beach and Tahoe City will have to relegate their firework watching to community events. In the Lake Tahoe area, two fireworks displays are approved for the Fourth of July – one in King’s Beach and the other in Tahoe City. Both displays are set up on barges in the middle of the lake, explained Richard Simmons, emergency service coordinator for Placer County Office of Emergency Services. “Those are off shore. They get fired and residue goes in the lake,” Simmons said. “Really the biggest problem we have is people who come up to watch and bring their fireworks.” Simmons said this year there were a few less fireworks permit requests. He said one display in Tahoe was canceled because there was no sponsor. He said he was not sure of other reasons why. He also added that usually Squaw Valley requests a permit but did not know why they didn’t this year. He said permits require input from several county agencies including law enforcement and fire jurisdiction personnel. He said fire districts have the final say as to whether or not fireworks can be used. For example, if high winds exist on the Fourth of July, fireworks shows could be canceled. This year, the Northstar area could not have a fireworks display at all because of a request from the Northstar Fire District, according to Rui Cunha, program manager for Placer County Office of Emergency Services. “The ordinance really gives us the ability to assess danger at any give time,” Cunha said. Officials warn that even if someone has purchased fireworks legally from a stand in one of the county’s cities, it is still illegal to set them off in unincorporated areas. The county does allow, however, fireworks displays approved by county officials and conducted by pyrotechnic companies licensed by the state fire marshal. Colfax Record Editor Gloria Beverage contributed to this report. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment. ---------- Firework safety tips - Always read directions - Always have an adult present - Use fireworks outdoors only - Never use near dry grass or other flammable materials - Light one at a time - Keep a safe distance - Never point or throw fireworks at another person - Never experiment with fireworks - Have a bucket of water and a hose handy - Never attempt to re-light or “fix” fireworks - Do not wear loose fitting clothing - Never carry fireworks in your pockets - Fireworks are not toys - Use only State Fire Marshal approved fireworks Source: Cal Fire, ---------- Pet safety - If you have a pet, it’s a good idea to keep them in a small, enclosed area during a fire works display - Keep pets in a crate or small bathroom - Try playing music or turn on the TV to drown out firework noise - If it’s your first Fourth of July with a pet, stay home with them to monitor their reaction Source: Gail Hardy, cathouse manager at Friends of Placer Animal Shelter ----------