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Sacramento Metro Fire Ramps Up Fire Resources For Fourth Of July Weekend

CARMICHAEL (CBS13) — The Fourth of July weekend is dubbed the "Super Bowl" for firefighters and arson investigators in Sacramento County who are at peak staff and resources to keep up with the number of calls related to fireworks and the fires they may start.

Saturday afternoon, Metro Fire of Sacramento responded to the American River Parkway in Carmichael to a fire that started from a "Safe and Sane" firework, the classification of legal fireworks in California known as a "ground flower." The firework was lit by a juvenile and set off on dry grass and brush along the river. A fire ignited and the juvenile was arrested, will be fined, and will likely have a juvenile record for the incident.

It's the kind of call arson Investigators like Steve Johnson expect to respond to through the Fourth of July.

"The fire could've traveled further and gotten into some of the bigger trees," said Johnson. "It did not get to the intensity that it had the potential for."

It doesn't have to be 90-100 degrees for a fire to ignite, according to Metro Fire Spokesperson Parker Wilbourn, the conditions on Saturday and expected for the rest of the weekend are enough for a fire to start: it's warm and it's windy.

"It's prime for burning," Wilbourn explained, when asked about the impact of fireworks in windy and warm conditions, especially in areas where fuel is dry.

Enforcement comes with education, too, Wilbourn explained.

"This is America's birthday. We know that our community wants to be out with family, they want to have a good time. We want them to have a good time, but it's very important for us that our community does it safely," said Wilbourn.

Metro Fire has more staffing, air operations, and the bulldozer at the ready to respond to firework-related incidents that may cause a fire. On Saturday, along the American River Parkway, the county's arson investigator dug through some of the burned brush in search of the firework. The investigator also looked at the direction of the brush and the line between fuels that burned and those that did not, which act as a "map" for investigators.

The incident was an example of the kind of enforcement that happens all weekend long in fireworks-related incidents. They are reported, responded to, investigated, and ultimately, may end with an arrest.

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