Dry Santa Clara County on high alert for illegal fireworks
SAN JOSE (KPIX) — With extremely dry conditions this July 4 holiday weekend, authorities are on high alert. All fireworks are illegal in Santa Clara County and officers will be out in force to catch violators.
Every wildfire season, Stephen Johnson is on high alert. He lives in San Jose a few blocks from the very dry hills of Santa Teresa.
“During the season, every couple of weeks we smell a grass fire and wonder where it’s coming from depending on which direction the wind is blowing and I think about four years ago or so the along the 101, he went all the way down to the houses,” Johnson said.
A neighbour, Duc Dung, hikes the area every day and he’s also worried about how dry it is.
“We had an incident last year on that hill there,” Dung said. “We had a really big fire.”
“Because we’re in a drought year, that leads to very dry fuels, so our fuel humidities there are lower than normal and so that leads to a greater chance that the fires will grow bigger and easier,” said Craig Clements, director of San Jose State University’s Center for Interdisciplinary Wildfire Research.
His team monitors, studies and predicts the behavior of wildfires. Clements said the Bay Area had already reached critical condition with below-normal fuel moisture a month ahead of schedule.
“I just think it’s too risky in drought years and with climate change to have personal fireworks in areas where you’re close to wild land and things can get on fire,” he said. Clements.
Due to extremely dry conditions, San Jose firefighters have a strong message to anyone planning to set off fireworks this July 4th.
“In the city of San Jose, all fireworks, even those labeled ‘safe and healthy’, are illegal to use, possess or sell,” said Erica Ray, public information officer for San Jose Fire. “With the extreme drought conditions we’re seeing in the community – and we’ve had very dry vegetation there – all it takes is a spark from an illegal firework display to start a fire.”