Sat04192014

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Leave fireworks to the experts this holiday week


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It may be tempting to set off backyard fireworks, but it’s dangerous – and illegal – in Santa Clara County, according to fire officials.

“Even ground effects and sparklers have a lot of heat and can start an unintended fire,” said Sgt. Brian Washburn, commander of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad.

With this summer’s dry conditions, Washburn warned that vegetation is “tinder dry” and vulnerable to catching fire.

Although the purchase and use of fireworks, including sparklers, is a misdemeanor or even a felony per state law, Washburn said, people often underestimate the potential safety risk of even the most low-grade explosives.

“More children are injured annually (by fireworks) than what you’d really guess,” he said.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported 8,700 emergency-room visits related to fireworks in 2012. Children under the age of 15 accounted for nearly 30 percent of the injuries.

While Washburn couldn’t recall a serious incident involving illegal fireworks in Los Altos or Los Altos Hills during his tenure, Los Altos Police Department officials said they receive as many as 10 or 15 calls about fireworks each Fourth of July.

Local law enforcement officials encourage residents to attend fireworks displays – like those hosted in Mountain View and Cupertino – operated by licensed professionals and coordinated with the county fire marshal, police and city officials.

Local fireworks shows

• The Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular featuring the San Francisco Symphony is scheduled 8 p.m. Thursday at Shoreline Amphitheatre, 1 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View. Tickets are $33-$47.35 (fees included); parking is $10.

For tickets, visit www.sfsymphony.org.

• Cupertino fireworks are scheduled 9:30 p.m. Thursday. Viewing locations include Creekside Park, 10455 Miller Ave.; Hyde Middle School, 19325 Bollinger Road; and Sedgwick Elementary School, 19200 Phil Lane. Pre-fireworks music and games are slated at all three locations at 6:45 p.m. Admission is free.

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