It broke my heart last week to see longtime Pasadena resident Mark Tracy on TV grieving the loss of his home, which burned in an accident involving a young child and fireworks.
I have known Mark for the better part of 40 years. I’ve known his girlfriend Jackie even longer.
Yes, the first inclination is to say they were lucky that no one was hurt, including a cousin who, fortunately, was not in the home when the incident happened.
Still, this is a tragedy.
That home had been in the Tracy family for three generations, and many special possessions were lost.
Enough with the damn fireworks, as Mark said on TV. Every year Pasadena is like a war zone leading up to and after Independence Day, with the sounds of fireworks erupting across the city.
Last year, Pasadena Police Chief John Perez told Pasadena Now that he experienced the busiest Fourth of July in his career.
So one more time, fireworks are illegal in Pasadena and all unincorporated communities in L.A. County.
Calls for service to the Pasadena Police Department related to fireworks reached 1,200 incidents in the two weeks following June 19.
On July 4, 36 citations were issued. All told, 57 citations were handed out for violating the city’s firework ordinance between June 19 and July 4. Over that same two-week period, at least 300 pounds of fireworks were seized.
Pasadena Public Information Officer Lisa Dederian has seen her share of injuries and fires caused by fireworks in her 18 years with the Fire Department.
“I’ve watched adults hand fireworks, categorized as explosive devices, to their young children as if it was a toy,” she told Pasadena Now on Sunday. “I’ve seen fires that were quickly extinguished due to the quick response of the Fire Department and/or Phos Chek keeping the fire small. We saw last week what fireworks can do with over a million dollars of damage that could have easily turned into a more tragic situation with lives at stake. Extremely dry vegetation, high heat, low humidity and drought conditions put us all at risk if fireworks go astray and spark brush. Leave the fireworks to the professionals.”
That’s her way of saying it.
I say, enough with the damn fireworks.
According to the National Fire Protection Agency, an estimated 19,500 fires started by fireworks were reported to local U.S. fire departments in 2018. These fires caused five civilian deaths, 46 civilian injuries, and $105 million in direct property damage.
Just last month, two people were killed when a massive explosion involving fireworks ignited multiple structure fires in a neighborhood in Ontario.
Last year, emergency phone lines at the Sheriff’s Department were so busy due to fires as people celebrated the fourth of July, deputies were forced to post a tweet asking for patience.
“Please be patient with our dispatchers, we are getting multiple calls at once. Deputies are responding to multiple locations.”
That incident included a house in San Dimas that burned due to illegal fireworks.
According to KTLA, at around that same time, trees in Azusa and San Bernardino caught fire. In the San Bernardino incident, exploding fireworks could be seen in the background on social media posts as the fire burned.
In L.A., several trees and cars in Koreatown caught fire.
A fire burned two apartment buildings in Northridge, injuring five and displacing 50 people.
In Reseda, LAFD responded to a report of eight large trees and the roof of a nearby apartment complex on fire.
If you want to see fireworks, go to the Rose Bowl or one of the many locations in the region.
If not, you may kill someone.
To donate to Mark and Jackie’s gofundme fund, please visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-geoffrey-mark-jackie-recover-after-fire?utm_campaign=p_cp_display&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_source=customer