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Southland Firefighters Concerned About Increase In Injuries, Wildfires Over July 4th Weekend

FONTANA (CBSLA) — With the Fourth of July right around the corner, firefighters across the Southland said they are concerned that more people might get hurt and start fires this year with fireworks as communities cancel events.

"I have to make sure I put on a good show for the kids," Vincent Ju said.

Ju was buying a bunch of legal fireworks Wednesday from a local vendor to set off for his family this Saturday.

"We can't go to the stadiums to check out the fireworks show, so I need to do my part as a dad," he said.

Ju is just one of many across the region getting in line to load up on their own fireworks this year due to the cancellation of community shows in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Oh, we're sad," Carol Navarette said. "We're very sad about it."

But fire departments across the state and concerned about the increase in people purchasing fireworks — both legal and illegal — to put on their own shows.

"There's a huge advantage to commercially produced firework shows," Eric Sherwin, a San Bernardino County firefighter, said. "They're done by professionals."

He said amateurs have been setting off loud, illegal fireworks for weeks near his fire station in Fontana. Firefighters said they are concerned that more people will take the pyrotechnics into their own hands and will accidentally start fires or cause injuries.

"Nobody ever sets off a firework going, 'Hey, let's set the mountain on fire. Let's disfigure a child,'" Sherwin said.

That threat is why the San Bernardino County Fire Department said it was staffing additional units throughout the weekend, especially in areas where the threat of wildfires is the greatest.

But Navarette said she was not worried.

"I think everybody's going to be safe," she said.

Though Ju said he was concerned, not about his own actions, but the actions of others.

"I live next to a hill, so if that hill goes up," he said.

He said he always has water and a fire extinguisher on hand and does not allow children to set off fireworks at his home, but he knows not everyone is as cautious.

"I hear them in my neighborhood every single night," he said.

And even if people legally purchase fireworks deemed safe and sane, but take them to neighborhoods where they are illegal, they can be fined up to $1,250.

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