Kurt Hildebrand
khildebrand@recordcourier.com

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July 2, 2012
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Fireworks forbidden in Douglas, El Dorado counties

While Douglas officials altered the fireworks ordinance to make it easier to get a permit for a private display, setting off fireworks without the permit is still illegal. And getting a permit without a pyrotechnic license from the state is impossible, according to East Fork Fire Marshal Steve Eisele.

Anyone watching the fire weather over the past month might think they were watching a May Day Parade from the number of red flags.

"The fire danger in general has been high," he said. "I don't know if we've had a record for red flag days in June, but there have been quite a few."

Drought conditions during the past winter and spring have left light grasses tinder dry.

"We didn't have any snowpack, so the grass didn't get knocked down," Eisele said. "The dry weather and high winds have started to stress the big fuels."

He said the same conditions have contributed both to the earliness of fires here and the large fires in the other Western states."

Concern about conditions in the wildland have encouraged fire agencies to call for severe fire restrictions.

"This Fourth the fuels are ready to burn and fireworks are an intense ignition source for a major event," he said.

Do-it-yourself fireworks displays remain forbidden in most places along the Sierra Front, including Douglas County, where possession or discharge could result in up to $1,000 fine and a jail term. Fireworks are also illegal in El Dorado County.

"With the weather we've had we can't afford to have a fire start," Eisele said. "We want the public to be aware that it's so dangerous in the wilderness. We all need to do our part."

Douglas County Sheriff's Spokesman Sgt. Jim Halsey points out that there are lots of places to watch fireworks.

"There are many community firework displays planned in our area in which you can take part, without risk of criminal or civil penalties," he said. "Please, do not risk life or property by the personal use or display of fireworks."

Any damage done to property as the result of illegal fireworks could result in civil liability.

Dry conditions through last winter increased the chance of igniting vegetation in the wilderness. Increased fire restrictions are in place on public lands which ban the use of fireworks and most incendiary devices.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Jul 2, 2012 02:28PM Published Jul 2, 2012 01:15PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.