Cal Fire Will Have Zero Tolerance for Illegal Fireworks Amid High Fire Risk

These illegal fireworks were collected in the weeks leading up to this Fourth of July by San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies. (San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office via Bay City News)

By Alise Maripuu
Bay City News

Cal Fire is warning of high fire danger and the measures they are taking to enforce firework safety ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

“The dry grass vegetation across the state coupled with triple-digit temperatures and the wind is the perfect recipe for a disaster,” California State Fire Marshal Daniel Berlant said at a briefing Tuesday. “Now when you add fireworks, whether they’re improperly used ‘safe and sane’ or whether they’re illegal fireworks, they can potentially create a catastrophic fire.”

Fire danger is extremely high this year across the state, said Sacramento Metropolitan Fire Marshal Barbara Law. California has already seen 2,934 wildfires in 2024 so far that have burned 139,590 acres. This time last year, the state had experienced 2,593 wildfires that burned 7,812 acres, according to Cal Fire.

Additionally, setting off fireworks can cause spikes in air pollution as excessive smoke and particulate matter is released into the air, according to the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

“Leave the fireworks to the professionals and enjoy local fireworks displays to help reduce air pollution and wildfire risks,” said Philip Fine, executive officer of the Air District.

In just this past week, law enforcement across the entire state of California took a whopping 120,000 pounds of fireworks out of the illegal market. Within the last year, fire officials, arson and bomb units and other law enforcement agencies seized over 240,000 pounds of illegal fireworks, which is equivalent to the weight of 10 Cal Fire engines, Berlant said.

Across the entire state, any fireworks that explode or fly in the air are illegal unless used by professionals in permitted shows.

These include sky rockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, sparklers and firecrackers, according to Cal Fire.

The penalties for possessing, using or selling illegal fireworks in California range from $500 to $50,000. Penalties may be increased depending upon the defendant’s criminal record, the amount and the location of use, said Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Bret Wasley.

Only fireworks with the State Fire Marshal “safe and sane” seal purchased from licensed fireworks vendors may be used. It is important to note that even “safe and sane” fireworks are banned for use in many cities.

The only Bay Area cities that allow the sale and use of “safe and sane” fireworks include San Bruno, Newark, Union City, Pacifica, Gilroy, Suisun City, Watsonville, Dixon, Dublin, Sebastopol, Rohnert Park and Rio Vista. On Tuesday, Cloverdale in Sonoma County suspended the sale and use of “safe and sane” fireworks due to high fire danger conditions this week.

Many cities in Sacramento County and several in Monterey and San Joaquin counties allow “safe and sane” fireworks. The full list can be found at

Even in areas of Sacramento County that allow fireworks, there are restrictions regarding the location of use. People that use fireworks at schools and parks can be fined up to $10,000, Law said.

In the city of Sacramento, fireworks task forces will be patrolling in the night leading up to and including the Fourth of July. People who are caught using fireworks illegally will be issued citations from $1,000 to $5,000, said Jason Lee, fire marshal for the city of Sacramento.

Holly Carr, the mother of a burn victim who was injured by fireworks during the Fourth of July, spoke during the conference to raise awareness on the dangers of playing with fire.

“In the three minutes I have to share Stevie’s story, my child would have already been burned by a sparkler that caused third degree burns on 15% of their 5-year-old body,” Carr said. “Those three minutes have haunted me for 13 years.”

According to Carr, a sparkler popped and hit her child’s hand, which caused them to swipe the sparkler across their festive polyester skirt. Seconds later, the skirt was disintegrated by the flames.

Carr’s child survived but had to undergo painful wound cleanings and skin graft surgery.

“The physical, emotional and mental trauma they endured from this, their parents being so naive and blindly following tradition, will live with us forever,” Carr said.

To optimize safety when celebrating the Fourth of July, especially with children, Carr recommends wearing all cotton, teaching fire safety, keeping a safe distance from fireworks, having water on hand in case of an emergency or simply opting for safer options like glowsticks.

More firework safety tips can be found at

“Remember, one less spark from an illegal firework this Fourth of July means one less wildfire,” Berlant said.

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