Fireworks dangerous in the basin |

Fireworks dangerous in the basin

Roman candles, cherry bombs, bottle rockets, firecrackers – they’re all illegal at Lake Tahoe.

All four counties surrounding Lake Tahoe – Washoe, Douglas, El Dorado and Placer – have ordinances that make the possession, sale, discharge or purchase of fireworks a misdemeanor offense, carrying a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine. And that includes specially labeled Safe and Sane fireworks, such as sparklers, which are commonly sold at Indian reservations and in other cities where fireworks are legal.

“Anyone found with fireworks can expect to get a citation and have the fireworks confiscated,” said El Dorado County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Watson. “And depending on their demeanor, they can be arrested.”

U.S. Forest Service Fire Management Officer Mark Johnson said discharging fireworks could easily start a wildland fire.

“Conditions are unusually dry in the Tahoe Basin for Fourth of July this year,” he said. “We haven’t had any spring rains.”

Johnson said that Forest Service fire crews already have fought about 20 forest fires in the Tahoe Basin this season.

“That’s a little above normal for us,” he said. “It’s all this nice weather we’ve been having.”

According to Johnson, weather forecasts may increase the fire danger for the holiday weekend.

“Stronger than normal winds have been predicted for Friday and Saturday and that can make the fire danger worse,” he said. “We’re going to be extra concerned.”

Along with fireworks, alcohol is also illegal on many Tahoe beaches.

Alcohol is prohibited on all South Lake Tahoe city beaches and at Nevada Beach in Round Hill this Fourth of July. At Zephyr Cove Beach, people will not be allowed to bring alcoholic beverages on Saturday or Sunday but will be able to buy beverages on the beach at Zephyr Cove’s Sunset Bar.

To regulate the alcohol and fireworks restrictions, local law enforcement agencies are planning to beef up the regular patrols by using mounted, bike and boat patrols at beaches during the public fireworks display.

After the show, California Highway Patrol officers are expecting heavy traffic on westbound U.S. Highway 50.

“We recommend that everyone be patient with the traffic, wear seat belts and not consume alcoholic beverages before driving,” said CHP’s Cmdr. Marty Whited.

He also recommended carpooling to the beaches on Sunday night to cut down on the amount of traffic in South Lake Tahoe.

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