Bay Area first responders gear up for potential 4th of July fires

Law enforcement and firefighters across the Bay Area are gearing up for what can often be their busiest day of the year, the fourth of July.

While most people are focused on celebrating, they are focused on keeping us safe, and that takes a lot of people power, so many agencies are calling in reinforcements.

Even though the Bay Area has had a dose of drizzle, cloud cover, and lower temperatures, fire danger remains high.

“This 4th of July is as dry as any 4th of July we’ve ever had, if not dryer,” said Capt. Jordan Motta with Cal Fire in San Mateo.

For that reason, Cal Fire and other agencies are stepping up staffing.

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In San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties where fireworks are illegal, personnel will be reassigned temporarily to help catch those breaking the law.

“We’re going to have our law enforcement scattered throughout San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, as opposed to working in their regular work locations,” said Motta. “They’re going to be on patrol ready and vigilantly monitoring illegal fireworks use.”

A similar circumstance is happening in Oakland, where prolific displays of illegal fireworks routinely take to the night sky pre- and post-holiday. The city is closing a portion of Grizzly Peak Boulevard to deter people from heading to the hills, and is taking additional measures for safety.

“We’re going to increase the number of companies that we are up staffing, two additional engines as well as a chief officer,” said Oakland Fire Department Battalion Chief Demond Simmons. “The remainder of the fire department is going to go out and do patrols, both in the flatlands and up in the hills sections.”

ALSO: Bay Area guide to July 4 fireworks, festivals

Even PG&E is imploring people to leave flying fireworks to the pros.

“Because fireworks and power lines don’t mix. That can be a very dangerous situation, not only can they cause outages, but they can also start fires,” said PG&E spokesperson, Mayra Tostado.

Last year Contra Costa County Fire tweeted they responded to 48 grass and exterior fires, and five structure fires on the fourth, a significant reduction from 2020. Photos they tweeted showed illegal fireworks were found near the scene of many fires.

“Anything that explodes or goes up in the air is illegal in California,” said Motta.

Under the California Health and Safety Code, anyone who violates state fireworks laws can face fines up to $1000 and jail time of up to a year.

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