Watsonville firefighters monitor firework sales

July 2, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
So-called Safe and sane fireworks are sold in a handful of communities around the Bay Area. Last year they were banned in Watsonville because of tinder dry conditions and multiple wildfires there, but those stands are open again this year and, the community is on alert.

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Right now, members of the Watsonville Fire Department are working over time because the city lifted its ban on fireworks sales. Last year, wild fires in Santa Cruz County convinced the Watsonville City Council to cancel sales in the city limits. This year, all 27 fireworks stands, are back.

"The chief does not support the sale of fireworks, it is an ignition source, we are in a three year drought," says Watsonville Fire Department Captain Kirt Vojvoda.

Now, as a precaution, the fire department is doing preventative patrols looking for illegal fireworks users, and under aged buyers.

"Our fear that the fireworks, any of them, safe and sane or illegal will be misused, kids especially will get hurt," says Watsonville Fire Department Captain Tom Avila.

While the fire department's priority is child safety, most of the non-profits that run the fireworks stands are also thinking about the children and how the fundraising will benefit them.

"It helps us with field maintenance, new uniforms for the kids, new equipment, so it's a big deal for Pajaro Valley Little League," says Marty Corley, the vice president of Pajaro Valley Little League.

Last year's ban cost the league $20,000. A loss many still think was unnecessary.

"The safe and sanes are not the cause of the fires," says Marty Corley.

The fire department disagrees. That's why they aren't taking any chances.

The roving engine will patrol Watsonville until Sunday night. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks will be fined $1,000.

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