Police / Fire

Fire knocked down on Highway 156 Sunday

Blaze ahead of Fourth of July is a reminder of summer fire dangers

CalFire contained a fire along Highway 156 near Buena Vista Road northwest of Hollister on Sunday afternoon, July 2. The call came in for a wildland fire just before 3 p.m., with initial reports of flames up to 30 feet high.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage to structures.

With the Fourth of July holiday quickly approaching, CalFire is reminding everyone to do their part to prevent fires and injuries caused by fireworks. Two out of five fires on the Fourth of July are caused by fireworks, more than any other cause of fires, according to a press release from the fire agency. The majority of these incidents are related to either the use of illegal fireworks or state-approved fireworks that are used incorrectly.

"Understanding the dangers associated with the use of illegal fireworks, or misuse of legal fireworks, is critical to keep everyone safe during the holiday,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, CalFire director. “Any person who starts a fire from fireworks – even accidentally – can be held liable for the costs of fighting the fire and any resulting property damage.”

There are also legal ramifications when it comes to certain types of fireworks. Possession of illegal fireworks such as sky rockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other types that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner can lead to a possible fine of up to $50,000 as well as prison time or jail for up to one year. The state fire marshal-approved “Safe and Sane” fireworks are allowed for use in many communities —including Hollister and San Juan Bautista; however, they are not approved state-wide. Before purchasing these types of fireworks, be sure to check your local ordinances and follow the instructions to avoid accidents and injuries.

“Please celebrate the holiday safely,” said State Fire Marshal Dennis Mathisen. “If you choose to use fireworks, make sure they are the Safe and Sane, and not the illegal variety. Remember, if it flies in the air or explodes, it is illegal.”

Here are a few tips to help you be safe this Fourth of July:

  • If fireworks are not legal where you live, do not use them.
  • Buy only State Fire Marshal-approved (Safe and Sane) fireworks.
  • Have a bucket of water and a hose handy in case of a fire.
  • Always read directions and have an adult present.
  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks.
  • Use common sense and keep a safe distance.
  • Never attempt to re-light or “fix” fireworks.
  • Sparklers can reach temperatures over 1,000 degree Farenheit, don’t give them to children.

CalFire has already responded to more than 2,135 wildland fires this year (January through June 2017). Residents are urged to visit www.ReadyforWildfire.org for tips on how to prepare their homes and family for wildfire. 

Click below for a CalFire video on fireworks safety:

Adam Breen

Adam Breen has been a San Benito County resident since 1980 and graduated from Sacred Heart School and San Benito High School before earning a bachelor's degree from California State University, Fresno. A father of two sons, Adam has taught newspaper, English and yearbook at SBHS for the past decade, after six years as a magazine editor for Santa Clara University. He previously was editor of the Hollister Free Lance and content director for BenitoLink.