Fireworks & Wildfires: California Braces For Dangerous Mix On Fourth Of July Weekend

California is facing a double threat this holiday weekend. As Covid-weary residents gear up to celebrate a consequential Fourth of July, the state is grappling with a series of wildfires as the crushing drought continues. Add to that the hazard of fireworks — both “safe and sane” and illegal — and the danger potential is huge.

Most of the active wildfires are in the northern part of the state, but firefighters around California are on high alert this weekend. The Shasta Fire in Lakehead destroyed at least one neighborhood this week, and officials are worried that hot weather and gathered crowds will increase the threat of new fires.

State and local authorities are urging residents not to set off their own fireworks and watch professional displays instead. “The wildfire danger is ever present,” the Los Angeles Fire Department said in a statement. “We encourage all to seek public fireworks shows, which will be more readily available than they were last year.”

See a list of LA-area displays below.

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In 2020, California wildfires burned more than 6,500 square miles of land, the most in the state’s recorded history. And it was three years ago that the Camp fire destroyed the Butte County town of Paradise, killing 85 people. What’s more, after a record number of acres burned last year, California’s acres burned are already well ahead of where they were at this time in 2020.

Another potential hazard this weekend is bad air quality. With fireworks expected to fill the air with smoke in many parts of Los Angeles for the Fourth of July, local air regulators warned Friday of potentially poor air quality that could have negative health effects. The air-quality index could reach the “very unhealthy” level, according to the Air Quality Management District.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who spearheaded a fireworks-buyback program modeled after the city’s gun-buyback program, said Thursday that the first buyback event resulted in more than a quarter-ton of fireworks being removed from the streets.

This comes days after a South Los Angeles neighborhood was evacuated when 17 people were injured by an explosion that happened as police attempted to safely detonate 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks that were seized at a house there. The LAPD and federal ATF agents are working to determine the cause of the blast. Police have arrested a suspect on suspicion of reckless or malicious possession of a destructive device.

Here is the LAFD’s list of professional fireworks shows set for Sunday night:

Bel-Air Bay Club
16801 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades

Brentwood Country Club
590 S Burlingame Ave, Los Angeles

El Caballero Country Club
18300 Tarzana Dr, Tarzana

Hillcrest Country Club
10000 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles

Hollywood Bowl
2301 N Highland Ave, Los Angeles

Hollywood Forever Cemetery
6000 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles

Burton Chase Park
13650 Mindanao Way, Marina Del Rey Jetty

Palisades Charter High School
15777 Bowdoin St, Pacific Palisades

Shepherd Church
19700 Rinaldi St, Northridge

Warner Center Park
5800 Topanga Blvd, Woodland Hillls

Wilshire Country Club
301 N Rossmore Ave, Los Angeles

City News Service contributed to this report.

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