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Illegal-Fireworks Season : Fire Dept. Warns About Bottle Rockets’ Red Glare

Times Staff Writer

In their annual effort to inform the public of the dangers of fireworks, a hazardous-device technician for the San Diego Fire Department sent sparks flying in a demonstration at a Friday morning news conference.

“Most people don’t realize that these things are illegal in San Diego County,” said Gayle Bates, of the Emergency Ordnance Disposal Team.

Bates lit a bundle of a popular fireworks to demonstrate how easily fireworks can start a grass fire.

“Sparklers cause the most injuries statistically,” Bates said. “Children like to tie them together, and most people think that they are safe.”

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The department also displayed Roman candles, bottle rockets and others devices that the public mistakes for being safe.

Eye injuries and burns are the biggest hazards from fireworks, said Joy Price of the Burn Institute in San Diego.

Last year, there were 374 accidents caused by fireworks in California, Price said.

The majority of the victims suffered burns, five of the victims were blinded, and one person died. Seven of the 374 accidents were in San Diego County, Price said.

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“A few days ago, a youngster was injured in Balboa Park,” Price said. “The fireworks season has definitely begun.”

Although all fireworks are illegal in San Diego, they can be bought in Orange County and Mexico.

Some counties sell fireworks dubbed “Safe and Sane Fireworks,” but Price said those also can cause injuries.

Bates said most violators are young adults.

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