Sparks Fire Department officials say that the dry conditions here in northern Nevada increase the danger of using fireworks. More fires are reported on Independence Day than any other day of the year, according to the SFD. Within Washoe County, at least 10 homes have been lost due to illegal use of fireworks within the last eight years.
Anyone caught setting off illegal fireworks will be cited. Sparklers, fountains, small firecrackers and novelties alone account for more than 50 percent of fireworks injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2010, according to SFD spokesman Fire Marshal Bob King. Most of these injuries happen to children between the ages of 5 and 9 and teens age 15 to 19.
“Be aware that sparklers reach temperatures of 1400 degrees Fahrenheit — hot enough to melt aluminum,” King said.
More than half of fireworks injuries are burns. Eyes are the most commonly injured body part. The national organization Prevent Blindness America warns people to avoid bottle rockets, citing the erratic flight path and explosive power as tremendous risks. Bottle rockets alone result in numerous injuries, preventing both children and adults from ever regaining normal vision.
Fireworks cause about 16,000 fires each year, resulting in $36 million of reported property damage (estimated 1,100 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires), according to SFD. This fire risk is especially high in our high-desert area, where erratic winds are common and many homes border heavy fuels and wildland areas.
For fire safety information, visit www.sparksfirefighters.com and click on “Prevention.”
The Bureau of Land Management also reminds residents that fireworks are not allowed on BLM-managed public lands. Violations can result in a fine of up to $10,000 and a year in jail as well as the costs associated with resource damage, suppression costs and injuries if found guilty.
So far this year within the Carson City BLM District, there have been 12 human-caused fires. On BLM-managed public lands statewide there have been 78 human-caused fires.
For more information, visit www.blm.gov/nv/st/en/info/newsroom/2012/june/fire_restrictions.html.
Finally, the Nevada Highway Patrol, the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Sparks Police Department and the Carson City Sheriff’s Office are planning a sobriety checkpoint in Incline Village. Due to the fireworks display and other special events planned at Lake Tahoe, a large increase in vehicular and pedestrian traffic is expected. Also, additional officers will be patrolling the area roadways throughout the weekend to protect pedestrians and other motorists from impaired drivers.