America’s birthday is nearly here again.
On Tuesday, July 4, people around Orange County and the United States will get together, barbecue and drink beer, and celebrate the country’s independence like only Americans can: by lighting stuff on fire.
But even though celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks is a rite of passage for millions of Americans, people always have questions about the legality, safety and combustibility of legal and illegal fireworks.
Below is the Register’s one-stop-shop for all your fireworks head-scratchers.
Q. How many cities allow residents to use fireworks?
A. Not many. And the ones that do are mostly in north Orange County. Ten cities, according to the Orange County Fire Authority, let residents light off so-called safe-and-sane fireworks: Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Stanton, Villa Park and Westminster.
Some of those cities, though, prohibit fireworks in certain high-vegetation areas, such as Anaheim east of the 55 freeway and south of the 91 freeway, and the Coyote Hills area of Fullerton.
Q. When can I buy fireworks in my city? When can I set them off?
A. There is typically a four-day window to buy fireworks, July 1 to July 4. Anaheim and Villa Park began selling fireworks on Wednesday, July 28. The hours of operation vary by city, but generally, fireworks stands are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. – give or take a couple of hours.
You can only set off fireworks on July 4.
Q. What are safe-and-sane fireworks anyway, and how do they differ from illegal fireworks?
A. Safe-and-sane fireworks do not fly through the air and do not explode – or at least aren’t supposed to (snafus happen). Illegal fireworks are the proverbial “bombs bursting in air”: bottle rockets, Roman candles, mortars. Safe-and-sane fireworks will spray colorful sparks, may sometimes make noise and will definitely make your backyard smell like rotten eggs (thanks, sulfur). But illegal fireworks can land on someone’s house or get stuck in a tree, and start a fire – which is an inevitability at this point, law enforcement officials said.
“There are fires on the Fourth of July every year,” said Sgt. Daron Wyatt of the Anaheim Police Department.
If you want to make sure the fireworks you just blew your last paycheck on…