Authorities warn against illegal fireworks

July 3, 2011 2:27:21 PM PDT
Authorities are cracking down on illegal fireworks this Fourth of July weekend. Around 12,000 injuries are caused by fireworks each year, with half of those happening to children.

One young man learned the hard way just how dangerous fireworks can be. Last year, 20-year-old Josh Meyers of Oakland lost his left hand after an illegal firework with an explosive power equating half a stick of dynamite detonated in his pocket.

In addition to losing his left hand, the explosion also blew off a piece of his thigh and calf. Meyers said the incident taught him a valuable lesson.

"When it comes to the firework shows and playing with explosives and stuff like that, leave it to the professionals," Meyers told ABC7.

Meyers also lost his dream of being a US Marine, but he's upbeat now and uses his experience to educate others.

"I definitely use it an example quite a bit," Meyers said. "Especially with kids."

Oakland Batallion Fire Chief Emon Usher is also an emergency management technician who has seen young people mauled and disfigured by illegal fireworks.

"I don't know where they get them, but they get them," Usher said. "It's going to look like a war zone in Oakland."

In Oakland, there is a zero tolerance policy for setting off any type of fireworks. Usher says people who use them will be fined and possibly arrested because of the grief they can cause.

"You get people who are killed, you get people's homes damaged, destroyed," Usher says. "You affect people's lives."

San Bruno, on the other hand, is one of the 12 Bay Area cities that sell and allow the use of "safe-and-sane" fireworks. Lisa Galea says people come from all around the area to purchase them.

"We always remind them that they need to sett off the fireworks in the cities where they are legal," Galea said, adding that they also need to be handled in an area where it is safe for children.

There are fines of up to $4,000 for using illegal fireworks, and the sale of those fireworks can land a person in jail as well.


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