Monday, July 23 , 2018, 6:28 am | Fair 64º


Local News

Santa Maria Issues At Least 1 Citation for Illegal Fireworks Use

At least one citation was issued in Santa Maria, with a second reportedly to be issued, for use of illegal fireworks, Santa Maria police said Thursday.

The agency received 180 calls related to fireworks on Wednesday in addition to the regular calls for service, according to Lt. Russ Mengel.

On July 2, a police officer on patrol spotted someone igniting fireworks and issued a citation to the man on the 400 block of East Hermosa Street, Cmdr. Jack Dunn said. 

That citation carries a penalty of a $1,000 fine, city officials said.

On Wednesday, an officer spotted an illegal firework being lit while en route to another emergency call and stopped to get the man’s information with plans to issue the complaint later, Mengel said. 

Law enforcement officers have noted the difficulty in catching and identifying those igniting illegal fireworks, saying it often requires the patrol officer being in the right place at the right time.

A few years ago, Santa Maria City Council adopted a policy to establish administrative citations, requiring two citizens to sign a citation against someone setting off the illegal fireworks.

“We’re one of the few cities that has a third-party fireworks citation law, and we have no one willing to sign complaints,” Mengel said.

To help quell the number of illegal fireworks, Santa Maria placed large digital signage trailers on city streets and spread the message through social media, radio stations, movie theaters, posters, city buses, cable TV, and numerous stories by the local English and Spanish news media.

Operators of all 24 fireworks booths selling safe and sane versions included a flier spelling out the rules, and messages were included on the city water bills in June. 

The city also made available signs for residents to put in their yards advising neighbors to be mindful of noise sensitive people and critters.

While all fireworks were banned in southern Santa Barbara County and the Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Maria and Lompoc allowed the sale of state-approved safe and sane fireworks, but limited their use to July 4 only.

Use of fireworks also sparked a number of escaped dogs who have filled up Santa Barbara County Animal Services shelters in Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Barbara, staff said, pleading for owners to come retrieve the missing pets.

Animal Services representatives posted Facebook pictures of the newly found dogs and cats, spelling out where they were located. The animals also can be reviewed on the Animal Services website by clicking here.

Lompoc police issued no citations connected to the Fourth of July holiday this year, and officered credited the community’s cooperation in helping create a comparatively mellow Independence Day from previous years. 

A total of 52 firework complaints were received by the Lompoc Police Department leading up to and during Independence Day, with 38 of those reported through the agency’s mobile app. 

Police Sgt. Kevin Martin said submitting firework complaints through the department’s mobile app significantly lessened the burden on 9-1-1 and police business lines.

“Our police department dispatchers felt this was one of the more mellow July Fourths they have worked in a long time, and the Lompoc Police Department would like to thank the community for its help,” Martin said.

The Lompoc Fire Department responded to three trash bin fires Wednesday, with those believed to have been started by fireworks.

Last week, a firework sparked a blaze that damaged the exterior of Anderson Recreation Center.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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