City task force snares illegal fireworks

By: Laura Newell Telegraph staff writer
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The Folsom Fire Department and Folsom Police Department were working a special task force over the weekend to ensure Folsom stayed safe and sane during Fourth of July celebrations. Folsom Fire Division Chief John Haberek was on patrol Monday evening looking for neighborhood block parties and others misusing illegal fireworks. The special task force patrolling Folsom included two members of the Folsom Fire Department and two members of the Folsom Police Department. It was funded by the Greater Sacramento Area Fireworks Task Force and a number of cities participated in the surrounding Sacramento area. On Monday night one citation was written for illegal fireworks and about 16 pounds of illegal fireworks were collected in Folsom, said Haberek. He explained that with the high temperatures and low relative humidity, the risk of property damage due to fires caused by illegal fireworks was extremely high. “Illegal fireworks are dangerous and explosive,” he said. “They can start fires and cause injuries. California is a dry area.” Legal fireworks sold in firework stands all had the “safe and sane” label on the package, letting people know they were safe to use. “Safe and sane fireworks don’t usually go boom or go off in the air,” he said. Haberek said 25 percent of all firework injuries treated at hospitals are the result of burns caused by “sparklers” and most victims are children. “Kids don’t always have the same sense of time that adults have,” Haberek said. “So if they are lighting a pack of (illegal) firecrackers and hold onto the pack a little too long, the pack can blow up in their hand and cause serious injuries to the point of needing surgery.” Throughout the evening a number of illegal fireworks were collected by the four patrolling units including roman candles, firecrackers, bottle rockets, M-80, mortars and mulit-shot devices including 6-shot, 18-shot and 100-shot. Haberek said some of the illegal fireworks taken Monday night were equivalent to fireworks used in the Folsom Pro Rodeo. During the prime firework time (9 p.m. to 10 p.m.), a small grass fire occurred on the border of Folsom and El Dorado Hills. At 9:39 p.m., a grass fire was called in and contained at 10:05 p.m., said Brad Ballenger, El Dorado Hills Division Chief Fire Marshal. The grass fire was at the west intersection of Beatty Drive and Powers Drive in El Dorado Hills. Approximately 1.8 acres was burned. “It appears that fireworks were the probable cause, pending on further investigation,” Ballenger said. He said that evening, the El Dorado Hills Fire Department had two volunteer engines patrolling as well as paid staff to prevent fires caused by illegal fireworks. “So we were already up there staged in the area when the fire occurred,” he said. Engine units from Cal Fire, El Dorado Hills Fire and Folsom Fire Department came out to help control the fire. Reach Laura Newell at