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Are you unsafe and insane?

Posted: June 27, 2009 7:35 p.m.
Updated: June 28, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Who can forget the October 2007 Buckweed fire that blackened tens of thousands of acres of brush, killed countless wild animals and decimated a Canyon Country neighborhood?

It took only one kid playing with a book of matches to spark it.

So much devastation, such an inauspicious start.

If you don't remember that fire, or dozens of others that preceded it, you're not alone. For the sake of SCV residents and Signal readers who didn't live here two years ago, and for the sake of those who should know better, we can't stress this strongly enough:
All fireworks are illegal in all parts of the Santa Clarita Valley, including the so-called "safe and sane" ones. Yes, even those little sparklers.

It doesn't help that you can drive right down the road and purchase them legally in Fillmore. You just can't use them outside of Fillmore city limits.

This in itself is totally unsafe and insane. It's like having a medical marijuana dispensary next door to a high school and telling people they have to smoke their pot on the premises. It wouldn't work.

We're not generally in favor of a bunch of new laws, but given our valley's history, we make an exception for fire safety.

Fireworks should be outlawed throughout California. The Fillmore City Council shouldn't be allowed to be our enablers.

Maybe it's their way of getting back at us for drowning their farmers in chloride.

We'd argue that flaming neighborhoods are a disproportionate response to salty avocados.

True, the Buckweed fire didn't start on July 4, and to our knowledge, it didn't involve fireworks. But it just as easily could have. No day is bigger for playing with matches than July 4.

Of course, that's the main difference between the marijuana dispensary next to the high school and the fireworks stand next to a tinder-box valley. The difference is that we - and most of you - aren't schoolchildren. We're supposed to be the adults.

Why, then, will so many adults in this valley play with matches on July 4 - and worse, allow their kids to play with matches? Is it because they don't know better, or because they simply don't care?

Or do they think they have superpowers that make their flames behave differently from all others?

It's amazing how many people think their knowledge of fireworks is superior to everyone else's.

Here's a clue: Unless you're a certified pyrotechnician who crafted your own fireworks, why would you bet your life - or your child's life - on the way something was manufactured in Mexico or China or a sweat shop in Los Angeles?

Last year on the Fourth, when it was 100 degrees in the shade, the SCV Sheriff's Station and the Los Angeles County Fire Department stepped up their patrols. Idiots shooting off fireworks in the streets in front of their homes were warned, and in some cases cited and fined.

We've enjoyed cooler weather the past few weeks, but that's likely to change fast.

What's more, our hills are drier than they were a year ago. If we were on the fringes of a drought last year, we're in the middle of one now.

Sheriff's deputies will be out in force again this year, and not just on July 4. For the next several weekends, they'll be on the lookout for illegal fireworks (which is a redundancy).

Don't say you weren't warned, and don't come whining to us about those mean deputies taking away your toys.

In fact, here's your opportunity to get back at the neighbor you don't like. If you see him shooting off bottle rockets in his backyard or Piccolo Petes in the driveway, call the SCV Sheriff Station at (661) 255-1121.

Nobody will think the worse of you for it (except maybe the neighbor, who doesn't need to know it was you). We've got your back on this one.

For those who feel fireworks are an American tradition and you can't celebrate the nation's birth without them, the city and county have got you covered.

Watch the professional fireworks display over the Westfield Valencia Town Center on Saturday night. It's bigger and better than anything you can do in the street. And besides, you've already paid for it through your local taxes if you live or shop in the city of Santa Clarita.

County residents are invited to watch at no extra charge.

Or go to Castaic Lake, where the county parks department and its vendors put on a great show that you pay for at the gate.

While we're on it, we should remind you that it's illegal in Santa Clarita to shoot Silly String or water guns into the line of march during the Fourth of July Parade (which starts an hour earlier this year).

Just like a wildfire, it takes only one fool with a spray canister to destroy an antique automobile or spook a horse. Deputies will be on watch with their ticket books at the ready.

Weirdly, like fireworks in Fillmore, vendors can legally sell Silly String during the parade, even though you can't use it.

Maybe the city ought to consider prohibiting its sale before next year's parade.

Two words really should prevail on the Fourth of July: common sense. If they did, we wouldn't need all of these laws.

Why not try using those two words anyway?


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