Illegal fireworks are sure to illuminate Tracy neighborhoods in less than two weeks in celebration of the country’s independence.
Those looking to celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang legally will need to travel to Manteca, Ripon, Escalon and Stanislaus County, were the law allows people to buy and sell fireworks dubbed “safe and sane.” All fireworks are illegal in Tracy, Mountain House and most of San Joaquin County.
The Tracy Fire Department snuffed out nine fires in Tracy and two in Mountain House last Fourth of July.
Division Chief Andy Kellogg, in charge of Tracy Fire Department’s prevention services, is working to diminish that number through education of the local law.
“The different laws confuse people,” Kellogg said, “so people seem to think they’re OK here.”
Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
kaboom:Fireworks that explode or shoot in the air are dangerous and can cause fires. Those who want to use fireworks must go to designated areas in other cities, like Manteca and Ripon.
State law allows safe and sane fireworks — which do not explode or leave the ground — but each city can choose to enforce tighter rules.
Fans of fireworks can drive just a few miles down the road to buy fireworks from stands in Manteca, mostly operated by nonprofit groups. The Manteca Fire Department has received nearly 100 applicants each summer since the city legalized safe and sane fireworks in 2004. This year, the department organized a lottery system to allow 14 nonprofits to set up booths.
Groups such as the Knights of Columbus that are fortunate enough to get a permit to sell fireworks say the booths are their best moneymaker.
“It’s a needed program for us,” Knights of Columbus grand knight Les Thomas said.
He hands out brochures to buyers who ask for details about the law in Manteca. He said he doesn’t ask customers where they plan to ignite the fireworks.
The Tracy Fire Department will staff up to nine engines on the Fourth of July with 35 firefighters, 15 more than on a typical day. The department’s seven stations responded to 22 calls last year.
Kellogg doesn’t predict the city will legalize fireworks anytime soon.
“You’re holding an explosive in your hand,” he said. “We don’t want to see that around here.”
The penalties for possessing fireworks other than those approved are a mandatory jail sentence of three to five days and three years probation. The penalties increase if explosives or children are involved.
Kellogg suggests locals ring in July Fourth at the Tracy Chamber of Commerce-sponsored fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. July 4 at Tracy High School’s Peter B. Kyne Field.
To contact reporter Danielle MacMurchy, call 830-4221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.