It’s a Fourth of July tradition, but Santa Barbara County fire officials are urging residents to leave the fireworks to the professionals during the holiday displays scheduled for this week.
Fireworks remain illegal throughout the county, although the cities of Santa Maria, Lompoc and Guadalupe allow use of “safe and sane” fireworks over the holiday.
That type of firework includes sparklers and ground-based devices that do not travel through the air, and are being sold from designated and permitted stands in those cities’ limits.
The possession, sales or use of fireworks of any type outside of cities permitting them is considered a misdemeanor offense, and in some cases, a felony offense.
Santa Barbara County Fire Capt. David Sadecki said that those choosing to go to a fireworks display should respect the safety barriers set up to allow the trained operators room to safely do their job, and that the best viewing of fireworks is a quarter-mile away.
“Although it rarely happens, it is possible that a firework component might fall to the ground without exploding,” Sadecki said, adding that the public shouldn’t touch those fireworks and should contact the local fire department.
Sadecki also said that pets — particularly dogs — are sensitive to the loud noises produced by fireworks, and should be left at home if people are planning to attend fireworks shows.
Los Padres National Forest officials also weighed in on the issue and stated that the possession or use of fireworks — including the “safe and sane” variety — is strictly prohibited in the forest at all times.
Rangers and law enforcement officers patrolling the forest will be strictly enforcing the ban on Thursday and throughout the long weekend, according to a statement from the department.
Because of the high fire potential in the forest, recreational target shooting is also prohibited unless specifically authorized under a special-use permit.
Campfires are permitted in Campfire Use Sites only, and must be attended at all times by a responsible adult with a shovel and adequate supply of water to douse the fire.
A cooking fire within a day-use site in the Santa Barbara Ranger District caused the White Fire on Memorial Day, when winds kicked up and pushed embers from the barbecue into nearby dry grass. The fire ravaged about 2,000 acres, and combined firefighting efforts on the ground and the air cost an estimated $3.11 million.
“Forest officials strongly encourage visitors to take into account local weather conditions when deciding whether to have a campfire,” according to the statement.
“This year has been extremely dry, and with hot temperatures in the forecast, it is prudent to consider leaving the campfires for another time,” Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez said.
Lanterns and portable stoves using gas, jellied petroleum or pressurized liquid fuel are permitted outside of Campfire Use Sites, but only with a valid California Campfire Permit, which are available free of charge at any Forest Service office or online. All flammable materials within a distance of 5 feet from camp stoves must be cleared, and a responsible person with a shovel must attend the stove at all times while it is in use.
Smoking is prohibited in all areas of the forest except within an enclosed vehicle, building or designated Campfire Use Site.
For those wanting to join the crowd and watch the fireworks, the City of Santa Barbara and nonprofit Santa Barbara SPARKLE will present the July 4th Fireworks Show, beginning at 9 p.m. and launching from West Beach.
Lompoc’s annual Fourth of July Fireworks Show will take place at Lompoc High School’s Huyck Stadium, 515 W. College Ave.
The Santa Maria Fairpark, 937 S. Thornburg St., is presenting the free Fourth of July Community Fireworks Celebration.
All shows begin at 9 p.m.