Sparkler starts San Jose apartment blaze

July 2, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A fire started by a sparkler destroyed two homes in a San Jose apartment complex on Friday. It is a vivid reminder of how good fun can go wrong at this time of year.

Nothing symbolizes the Fourth of July better than fireworks. Unfortunately, injuries and fires caused by fireworks can also be a result of the holiday tradition. Without following proper safety protocol, even the small ones can cause big problems.

"People think of bottle rockets and Roman Candles as major fireworks, but sparklers are also dangerous," says San Jose Fire Capt. Chuck Rangel.

Neighbors in one San Jose community are salvaging what remains after a holiday sparkler ended up in the hands of a child and started a blaze that destroyed a section of an apartment building.

"It was accidental in nature, but unfortunately, it was the use of illegal fireworks. A sparkler on the first floor porch area caught a couch on fire. The fire extended to that unit as well as the upstairs unit," said Rangel.

"It's illegal and it's illegal for a reason. It's illegal because there are people who have experienced this before," said resident Barbara Blankenship.

The San Bruno municipal code makes all unauthorized fireworks illegal. They do, however, permit the sale and use of safe and sane fireworks, which are pyrotechnics that don't fly or explode.

"We're dealing with fire and unfortunately sometimes we can't control what happens in regards to lighting or putting those out," said San Bruno police Cmdr Matt Campi.

Debbie Verna understands this. She is planning to celebrate the holiday with her family, but says that she will teach her children how do enjoy the fireworks responsibly.

"You can never be too safe. Keep the distance. Your kids should be supervised always," said Verna.

Campi says the police department will continue its zero-tolerance policy for all illegal fireworks and all officers not scheduled for vacation will be out on patrol throughout the city to educate and enforce the ordinance.


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