Getting caught setting off an illegal firework this holiday in Turlock could be akin to taking a $100 bill and setting it on fire.
A fine for setting an illegal firework can start at $100 and can go up to $500, said Turlock Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jason Bernard. Each violation carries a fine, so a person can get multiple violations depending on the circumstances, including if the person is a repeat offender.
It's questionable, however, if the fines are enough of a deterrent because over the last few weeks, and especially the last couple of days, illegal fireworks have been setting the night sky aglow all over Turlock. Between Tuesday and Thursday, the Turlock Police Department logged 19 calls for fireworks violations and those are just the ones that were reported.
The Fourth of July is typically a busy time for the Turlock Fire Department and this year doesn't look to be an exception.
"All fire units will be on a heightened alert and may be patrolling looking for illegal fireworks," Bernard said.
In California, illegal fireworks include: Sky rockets; Bottle rockets; Roman candles; aerial shells; Firecrackers; and other fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner.
Each year illegal fireworks cause serious injuries and millions of dollars in property loss from sparking wildfires, according to Cal Fire. On Wednesday, a stockpile of illegal fireworks discovered at a Los Angeles home exploded, injuring 16 people and damaging nearby homes and cars.
The California Office of the State Fire Marshal engages in an extensive testing and approval process of a limited variety of 1.4G fireworks that are known and labeled as “Safe and Sane” fireworks as well as “State Fire Marshal-Approved,” or “State-Approved Fireworks.” These “State-Approved Fireworks” may be identified by the State Fire Marshal Seal found on the individual firework or the boxes containing them.
Illegal fireworks are generally those that do not have the State Fire Marshal's seal, or any that go up into the air or explode. Turlock also has a ban on noise-making fireworks known as “Whistling Petes” and “Piccolo Petes."
Fireworks sold at approved vendor booths around Turlock are all in the “Safe and Sane” category and meet all local firework laws and ordinances.
People can report the use of illegal fireworks to the police department. If the exact address is known and it is in progress, residents can call 911. If the location is unknown or even just a general area, call the non-emergency line at 668-1200.