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FIREWORKS LEGAL ONLY IN CITY OF FILLMORE PRIVATE DISPLAYS ELSEWHERE WILL BE CONFISCATED.

Byline: Eric Leach Staff Writer

SIMI VALLEY - City and county officials are warning residents that the possession of any fireworks is illegal in all unincorporated areas and all cities in Ventura County except the city of Fillmore.

Damage from fireworks during Fourth of July celebrations last year cost police and firefighters throughout the county nearly $100,000, officials said.

Ten police departments in the county spent $66,600 responding to thousands of reports of illegal fireworks in 2004, with the greatest policing costs coming from Oxnard, which spent $40,377 enforcing fireworks laws, according to a report by the Ventura County grand jury issued Wednesday.

The cost to fire departments in the county was in excess of $24,000, with the greatest single cost of $12,789 in the city of Ventura, the grand jury said.

Officials in Oxnard, Ventura, Camarillo, Port Hueneme and Santa Paula said they confiscated fireworks last year that had come from Fillmore, San Fernando, Culver City, Mexico, China, Nevada, Arkansas and other states.

Violators of fireworks laws may not only be fined and jailed, but held responsible for any damages that might occur, including the cost of fighting fires, officials said.

``We're not out to be the Grinch that stole the Fourth of July, but we want people to celebrate safely,'' said Joe Luna, a spokesman for the Ventura County Fire Department. ``We will have fire prevention officers patrolling the county to enforce the law.''

Each year, fireworks cause nearly 9,000 injuries nationwide. Even the so-called ``safe and sane'' fireworks, which don't fly through the air or explode, can cause fires and injury, Luna said.

Fillmore is the only place in the county where people can buy and set off fireworks.

``But people don't keep the fireworks in Fillmore. They take them home. They come from other counties,'' Luna said. ``It's frightening to think that people carry them in their cars with their families. Even sparklers can cause fires and burns.''

The Ventura County grand jury did not break down costs of law enforcement and fire protection in Fillmore, but noted that the city has two to three brush fires per year, some due to illegal fireworks.

The grand jury also said that in 2003, Fillmore generated $1.3 million in gross fireworks sales, from which the city received about $13,000 in sales tax.

In Fillmore, only fireworks classified as ``safe and sane'' are legal - small fireworks such as cones that shoot showers of sparks in the air, Piccolo Petes and pinwheels.

Simi Valley police said they will be patrolling local neighborhoods for fireworks violations and issuing citations.

``We'll be out in force,'' said Sgt. John Adamczyk of the Simi Valley Police Department. ``We'll definitely issue citations and confiscate fireworks.''

Luna said Ventura County residents have numerous opportunities to see organized public fireworks displays, including the free show over the water at Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard.

``There are many opportunities to take the family and enjoy the fireworks from a safe distance,'' he said.

Eric Leach, (805) 583-7602

eric.leach(at)dailynews.com

WHERE TO GO

Here is a list of fireworks shows in the area:

Today:

MOORPARK - 9 p.m. at Arroyo Vista Community Park at the intersection of Tierra Rejada Road and Countrywood Drive.

Monday:

SIMI VALLEY - 9 p.m. at Simi Valley High School, 5400 Cochran St.

THOUSAND OAKS - 9 p.m. on the hilltop behind The Oaks mall on Hillcrest Drive between Lynn and Wilbur roads.

OXNARD - 9 p.m. at Channel Islands Harbor, Victoria Avenue and Channel Islands Boulevard.

CAMARILLO - 9 p.m. in Freedom Park at Camarillo Airport, Pleasant Valley Road and Eubanks Street.

FILLMORE - Dusk at Fillmore High School, 555 Central Ave.

SANTA PAULA - Dusk at Harding Park, Ventura Street and East Harvard Boulevard.

VENTURA - Dusk at Ventura College, 4667 Telegraph Road.

Source: Ventura County Fire Department

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 3, 2005
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