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Fireworks ban enforced

Rick Adair, Sun News Services

The Martis Fire, which grew to 10,000 acres in a day because of extremely dry conditions, is not the sort of fireworks anybody sane would like to see this 4th of July season.

To keep this from happening again, fire agencies throughout the lake are emphasizing the high risk of using fireworks carelessly.

“We’re in an extreme hazard period until we get enough rain,” said Assistant Chief Bruce VanCleemput of the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District. “Ignition risk is 100 percent, meaning that any ignition that goes into the wildlands will start a fire all the time, not just maybe.”

To back up their concerns, the fire agencies have the law on their sides, because unlicensed possession of fireworks is a misdemeanor, and some have said they just might use it this year, instead of issuing warnings.

Tom Smith, Senior Fire Inspector for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, urges common sense, and says those who don’t show it are subject to arrest.

“Please,” he said. “This is the driest season in 50-some years, and a careless act could put thousands of lives and millions in property value at risk.”

Smith said that almost no permits are issued to individuals.

“It’s mainly local governments and casinos that do it,” he said. “We especially want to alert visitors to the area of the hazards of using fireworks.”

Grucci, a Pennsylvania-based fireworks firm, will provide fireworks for the Incline Village event, which the Parasol Foundation sponsors. Smith says the family-owned company keeps the show secure by providing “heavy” insurance with its services, and obtaining permits not only from the fire district, but also from federal and state agencies in order to transport, store and discharge the pyrotechnics.

The fire district additionally requires the fireworks be discharged on a barge at least 1,000 feet from shore, and may delay the show if winds are not favorable.

“We want to ensure that any rounds that the wind might cast back on the forest won’t start a fire,” said Smith.

VanCleemput says that displays in Douglas County portion of the lake, one sponsored by Harrah’s at South Lake and another for the Glenbrook Home Owners Association, are also required to take place offshore.


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