Firefighters warn public of using illegal fireworks as Bay Area celebrates 4th of July

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Bay Area is off to an early start celebrating the July Fourth holiday. It's the first major holiday we've had since California reopened its economy, after a challenging year with COVID-19.

This weekend, there are fun activities planned but words of warning from firefighters about the dangers of illegal fireworks.

There was a block party happening Saturday at Thrive City at Chase Center, hosted by the Warriors.

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The sun was out and the grill sizzling with free burgers for fans who are finally ready to party like the Henderson's from Brisbane.

"It means Independence," said Cindy Henderson.

"Its about being out with family for the first time in a year, celebrating the new normal, said Eric Henderson.

"I'm vaccinated, things are looking up now," said Troy Goodwin from Oakland.

The block party will continue on July 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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For the first time in two years, fireworks will light up the San Francisco waterfront on July 4 with thousands expected. But firefighters are pleading, leave the sky show to the professionals, but they know not everyone will listen.

The San Francisco Fire Department recently made a Public Service Announcement after illegal fireworks caused more than 100 grass fires last July 4.

Firefighters were seen on video driving through a barrage of bottle rockets responding to calls. This year, with drought conditions so bad, they urge people to think and be careful.

"The flashing lights, the sparks, the large booms. We hear them going off and each one can ignite an ember," said SFFD Lt. Jonathan Baxter.

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In Contra Costa County, the fire department plans to have 50 extra personnel and eight additional engines standing by on July 4.



In Contra Costa County, there are fines for those who set off illegal, or so-called safe and sane fireworks and a new hotline to report violators.

On Friday, firefighters demonstrated how fast a simple safe and sane sparkler can start a grass fire on a dry hillside- less than a minute.

Extra firefighters will be on duty across the Bay Area this holiday weekend and most expect to be busy responding to fires.

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