L.A. Now

Plenty of folks still hot about illegal fireworks

But for a few "don't you have anything better to write about" comments, my column about illegal fireworks being set off by amateurs has generated many more complaints about — illegal fireworks.

"How you could omit Highland Park from your article astounds me," wrote a resident of that community. "Hands down, the 90042 ZIP code wins the award for incendiarism. Our neighbors not only set off rounds upon rounds of illegal fireworks, they shoot guns. Being an ex-military family, we know our explosives! And it's not just on July 4th. The party starts before Memorial Day and continues until after Labor Day."

An Echo Park reader described teenagers shooting off bottle rockets over dried brush on the Fourth of July, and she described this scene from her hillside vantage point:

"I was incredibly anxious the entire night by booming, cracking and banging, all around us as young men tapped into their testosterone. Below us and beyond, HUNDREDS of displays could be seen, and I was wishing the cops could use this spot as a sort of Command Post to direct operations throughout the East Valley."

Another reader pointed out that El Monte police and L.A. County Fire Department officials seized 33 tons of illegal fireworks and issued 56 citations in the weeks leading up to the holiday. The LAPD, meanwhile, focused on preventive measures rather than a crackdown, and that tactic bombed yet again. Maybe L.A. should take a cue next year from El Monte and be a little more proactive.

Meanwhile, a Ventura County reader said the fireworks began July 1 on Silver Strand Beach and continued for a week.

"The explosions are far worse than in years past; they are bigger, louder and more frequent," said the reader, who added that they were "captive in our homes, dealing with shaking, panic-struck dogs and cats and wondering if ours might be the house to burn."

And, from Culver City:

"I live near the L.A./Culver City border a few blocks from the LAPD Pacific Division, where I'm sure they could hear the war zone taking place near my home, yet the LAPD and CCPD both ignored it."

Fireworks are illegal in much of California, though some cities allow low-grade, so-called safe and sane products. But as I noted in the column, tons of illegal fireworks are imported from Nevada and other places.

"If we don't stop the material coming on to California, at the borders, it's impossible to expect local jurisdictions to fight the product once it's here," said Dennis Revell, who represents the safe and sane fireworks industry.

My guess is that with relatively few injuries or fires (L.A. County had seven fireworks-related blazes last year, and a house in Buena Park burned this year), nothing much will happen to control illegal fireworks. Until something horrible happens.

Your thoughts?

 

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@LATstevelopez

steve.lopez@latimes.com

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