Illegal fireworks pose explosive safety and legal dangers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Illegal fireworks pose explosive safety and legal dangers

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By News 8's Richard Allyn

San Diego, Calif. (CBS 8) - Authorities are warning all San Diego County residents of the safety dangers and legal consequences of handling illegal fireworks.

Every year, emergency rooms nationwide treat an estimated 7,000 people, primarily teenagers and younger children, for fireworks-related injuries. Most of those injuries are burns, contusions or lacerations.

In both the city of San Diego and in San Diego County, it is illegal to buy, possess or set off fireworks, unless part of an approved fireworks display. Purchasing illegal pyrotechnics in the state of California is a felony.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is also warning against trying to smuggle fireworks obtained in Mexico into the United States.

"Generally, the penalty is the domestic values of the merchandise brought in, " said supervisor Steve Ford of Customs and Border Protection. "if there are aggravating circumstances, it can be up to ten times the value of those fireworks."

Ford adds that "on rare occasions, we can and do seize vehicles."

Teens and younger children playing with fireworks are not immune from the legal consequences.

According to the state Fire Marshal, minors who either possess or cause damage with illegal fireworks can be tried in juvenile court, and their parents could be held responsible for any damages.

Setting off illegal fireworks also poses a significant fire risk, according to authorities. In 2008, fireworks caused an estimated 22,500 fires nationwide, leading to dozens of injuries and even one death, as well as $42 million in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.



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