Amid severe drought, L.A. city attorney warns of crackdown on illegal Fourth of July fireworks

Fireworks in the night sky above a parking lot at the beach
People watch illegal fireworks launched from the parking lot of the Santa Monica Pier last year on the Fourth of July.
(Nick Agro / For The Times)

Amid a severe drought and historically dry conditions, the Los Angeles city attorney on Thursday warned residents against using illegal fireworks leading up to the Fourth of July and said his office would be cracking down.

“All fireworks in the city are illegal for personal use and only professional and permitted firework shows are the places where Angelenos should go to celebrate the Fourth of July with a fireworks display,” City Atty. Mike Feuer said.

Feuer’s office is issuing cease-and-desist letters to online platforms such as Facebook and Craigslist that are advertising firework sales in Los Angeles, he said.


In the San Fernando Valley, Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez is holding a fireworks buyback program July 2 at Brand Park in Mission Hills, where people can turn in illegal fireworks without consequences and receive gift cards in return. According to Feuer, more than a quarter-ton of fireworks were turned in last year.

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Severe drought conditions can cause fires to spread quickly — a danger that is worsened by fireworks, Feuer said, adding that fireworks can also cause gruesome injuries.

“The risk of devastating, quickly spreading fires sparked by fireworks is severe this year, not to mention the ever-present threat of serious, life-altering injuries. That’s why we’re starting early this year, cracking down and urging Angelenos to leave fireworks to the pros,” Feuer said.

Fireworks can also cause distress to people with autism or other sensory issues, those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and pets. During the Fourth of July weekend, more dogs run away from home than at any other time of the year, according to the American Kennel Club.

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Anyone found guilty of selling, possessing, using or discharging illegal fireworks in the city of Los Angeles can be fined up to $1,000 and/or face up to a year in jail, according to the city attorney’s office.

Last year, police responding to a tip about a man selling illegal fireworks in South L.A. found dozens of boxes of commercial fireworks as well as homemade explosives at a house on East 27th Street.


Because those explosives were deemed too unstable to haul away, the LAPD bomb squad attempted to detonate them on site in a “total containment vessel”; the ensuing explosion destroyed much of the neighborhood, injured 17 people and displaced dozens more.