Illegal fireworks cause concern for Calif. firefighters

LOS ANGELES -- In drought-stricken California, firefighters are on high alert. Fireworks sparked 300 fires last year, but there is a bigger concern this year.

The spectacular, professional fireworks shows are not what concerns Southern California firefighters. Their worry is illegal fireworks launched from backyards.

They're prevalent and worrisome to Orange County Fire Captain Steve Hurdle.

"It's really the biggest day of the year for firefighters," Hurdle said. "It's when we're on our most guard."

Hurdle said California's drought-parched brush is so dry, it could ignite "instantaneously."

"The aerials that go out, when they fall out, they're still hot; they still have that hot ember, and who knows where they'll land," Hurdle said. "They could land anywhere in any type or form of brush."

That danger has caused several cities in the west to impose emergency bans on fireworks after recent wildfires destroyed dozens of homes.

But in the city of Anaheim, so-called "safe and sane" fireworks -- that don't launch into the air but still could spark a wildfire -- are now legal for the first time in three decades.

Jesus Isres was planning to light his fireworks in a parking lot.

"You don't want to be the guy that starts a fire," Isres said. "You want to be the guy that has fun."

Susan Rogers also planned to keep it safe.

"There's always people that are going to break the laws and act like idiots, but you hope for the best," Rogers said.

So do firefighters, who can hardly wait for the Fifth of July.