Fireworks illegal in the basin |

Fireworks illegal in the basin

Mary Thompson

Bringing in the new year with the spark and crackle of fireworks could burn a hole in your pocketbook.

Fireworks are illegal in the Lake Tahoe Basin on both sides of the state line.

According to Cmdr. Rich McGuffin of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department possession of fireworks is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by one year in jail and fines between $500 and $1,000.

He said there will be no leniency in the law this New Year’s Eve.

“If you’re caught with fireworks, you’ll be cited,” McGuffin said.

McGuffin said even “Safe and Sane” fireworks, which have been allowed in some California cities for the New Year’s celebration, are not allowed in the basin.

“Anything that is rapidly combustible or explodes will be confiscated,” he said. “That includes firecrackers, sparklers, cherry bombs, M-80s – anything that is launched into the air that is on fire.”

McGuffin said fireworks aren’t allowed in the basin at any time of the year.

Lt. Ross Chichester, of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, said the rules are similar in Nevada.

“It’s a citable offense under county code,” he said. “And fireworks will be confiscated.”

In addition, the city of South Lake Tahoe’s Fire Department said the fire danger is unusually high for this time of year.

“It wouldn’t normally be a problem for us during this time of the year but its a serious problem this year because the meadows are especially dry,” said Fire Marshal Merle Bowman. “We need to discourage people from using fireworks even though people think there wouldn’t be as much fire danger at this time of the year.”

Bowman said possible fires caused by fireworks could distract the fire department resources from responding to more important emergencies.

“Our attention is more focused on (emergency medical) services and structure fire response,” he said. “But we’ll be ready to respond to a wildland fire if we have to.”

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