Rising Crescendo of Fireworks Explosions Put Jittery Residents on Edge

Published : Thursday, June 15, 2017 | 5:33 AM

Residents still on edge over an earlier gang feud which resulted in the police announcement this week of eight arrests for murder have been rattled to hear what sounds like a rash of gunshots in recent weeks in Northwest Pasadena which police say are almost certainly fireworks explosions.

“It’s pretty frightening at the possibility these could be gunshots in the area,” one jittery resident wrote this week.

In spite of the war the city has waged for years to ban them, Pasadena is captive to a rising crescendo of fireworks as the Fourth of July draws near.

Pasadena police hand confiscated fireworks to a Pasadena Fire Department arson investigator in this file photo.

“We’re just north of the freeway and every year . . . it sounds like Baghdad, no kidding,” one Pasadena Now reader wrote. “A Navy Seal neighbor who served in Afghanistan commented that it wasn’t doing his PTSD any good and hid in their bedroom.”

“We’re already getting reports of fireworks going off in neighborhoods,” said Pasadena Police Lt. Tracey Ibarra this week.

“We’ve been getting them intermittently, but we’ve been getting them for a couple weeks now,” Ibarra added.

Fireworks of all kinds and of all sizes have been sighted in recent years.

“In the past we have seen fireworks go off larger than the professional ones inside the Rose Bowl,” said Pasadena Fire Department Spokesperson Lisa Derderian. “That raises huge concern for everyone’s safety.”

Fireworks not only cause injury from explosiveness, but from fast-moving fires they can cause. Some people think the end of the years-long California drought means fire danger is less this year. Not so, says Derderian.

“It’s a myth out there that because we’ve had so much rain that there won’t be as bad of a fire season, but that’s not the case because with all of the increase in moisture it just increases the growth of a lot of vegetation. It’s prime for fires especially right now,” Derderian said Wednesday.

“Because it’s been one of the wettest systems, which is good for the drought, it’s left the hillsides covered in grass and other very flammable vegetation which is a big concern. But due to the drought, trees are dead and dying which adds to the wildfire threat,” said Derderian, who pointed to several small brushfire outbreaks in nearby communities in recent weeks.

The Pasadena Fire Department will spray a wildland fire retardant called Phoschek on hillsides and heavily vegetated areas around the Linda Vista and Arroyo Seco areas of the City on June 29.

“It helps revegetate trees and grass,” said Derderian. She explained that its main ingredients are phosphate and fertilizer and are not harmful to animals or the environment.

The City enforces a “zero tolerance” policy towards fireworks, which are strictly prohibited. Police and Fire Dept. officials routinely patrol neighborhoods this time of year to seize fireworks and stop users who mistakenly think the explosives are just harmless fun.

In 2015, the Pasadena Police Department and Fire Department’s Fireworks Taskforce teams seized a combined total of less than 100 pounds of fireworks during the July 4th holiday season.

Last year the Pasadena Police Department Special Enforcement Section seized large cache of illegal fireworks in excess of 360 pounds which Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said was ,“the single largest seizure of fireworks within the City’s recent history,” according to a report.

“If you see something, say something,” Derderian explained.

It is a difficult task for authorities to locate where illegal fireworks are being used.

“If you see your neighbor taking them out of a vehicle or you can pinpoint where they are coming from, call us right away because they are a nuisance and can cause injury, death and fires,” said Derderian.

Someone is found to be in possession of any amount of fireworks they may be subject to arrest and the fireworks confiscated.

Anyone caught possessing fireworks face up to a maximum of six months jail and fines not to exceed $1,000 plus the cost of disposal which is $100 per pound for a misdemeanor offense.

Felony firework offenders may see significant jail time which stay on your personal record, according to Derderian.

“We really need to be vigilant and take preventative measures because any fireworks or even sparklers can cause fires, injuries or fatalities,” said Derderian.

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