Cities work to prevent illegal fireworks

July 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The fires all across the state are making authorities awfully nervous this 4th of July weekend. Some want a statewide ban on the sale of fireworks this year, but it's up to individual cities and counties to make that decision. After much debate, Gilroy decided to go ahead and sell them.

It's prime fire conditions today in Gilroy. Nevertheless, Gilroy is the only city in Santa Clara Countywhere you can legally buy and use fireworks. People here are stocking up, convinced that they can use them safely.

The Gavilan College Football Boosters Club has a stand on First Street in Gilroy. Michael Lango hands out a flyer with rules and regulations, and the same information is posted outside: "Fireworks are to be purchased and used by Gilroy residents only."

"The id has to be from Gilroy. If you're writing a check from Gilroy but your id is from another place, we still can't take the check," says Lango.

But, Justin White is from La Selva Beach in Santa Cruz County, an hour drive from Gilroy. He bought a big box with a $250 price tag and paid cash, so he never showed his id, nor was he asked for it. And he's not worried about starting a wildfire.

"We live on a couple acres at Le Selva Beach, so I made sure I watered real good today. We'll set them off on the patio."

It's up to individual cities and counties to decide whether to ban fireworks sales.

State Senate President Don Perata thinks the legislature should ban them.

"What we really ought to do is ban this next year in the state of California. There's absolutely no reason, given the fire danger and the urbanization of our forests today. No reason to sell those things," says Perata.

Gilroy debated it and decided to go ahead with sales. People buying them say they'll take extra precautions.

"Yeah, we're up against the hills. During the last Uvas Watsonville fire, we could see it from our driveway, but we'll keep it safe just some little fireworks. Nothing big," says Ron Lazoy of Gilroy.

"So many fires and it's very hazard right now," says Leo Guerrero of Gilroy.

The booth on First Street is being operated by a CHP charity and the officer here believes that there is some wiggle room on the rules. You can buy fireworks if you are out of town, but you have to promise to use them in Gilroy.


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