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Fireworks illegal for July 4

Holly Atchison

With the celebration of the Fourth of July comes a reminder that the sale, possession and discharge of fireworks is illegal in the state of Nevada according to the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the Nevada Division of Forestry.

“The concern stems from the danger,” said Sgt. Lance Modispacher of DCSO. “They can be deadly. It seems like every year someone has a firecracker prematurely discharge in their hands.”

Possession or discharge of fireworks is a misdemeanor. All fireworks will be confiscated by officers, and citations will be written.

“The sheriff’s department is relying on responsible persons to contact our office regarding the possession or discharge of fireworks,” Modispacher said. “Parents are asked to closely monitor their young ones. Remember, parents may be held responsible for the actions of the children regarding damage caused by fireworks and fire.”

“We want people to have a good time, but on the same sheet of music, we don’t want folks to burn the county down,” Modispacher said.

The second concern for the discharge of fire works is wildland fires.

“As a result of the wet winter and spring, we have extraordinary growth of grasses and light vegetation throughout the wildland areas which can promote the spread of a fast moving wild land fire,” said Nevada State Forester Roy Trenoweth.

Anyone who is responsible for setting a fire by playing with fireworks is subject to criminal prosecution and compensation for damages.

“I urge all who wish to see fireworks on the Fourth of July holiday to take advantage of the public fireworks displays in various communities throughout the state. These displays are licensed by the State Fire Marshal and provide not only a spectacular Fourth of July show, but do so with a degree of safety that individual use of fireworks cannot provide.”

The National Fire Protection Association and the State Fire Marshal report that since 1995 more than 11,000 people in the U.S. have suffered severe injuries as a result of amateur use of fireworks. Those at greatest risk are children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. Even sparklers, often thought of as safe, can burn as hot as 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another possible start for wild fires is plain carelessness.

“The Autumn Hills fire is still fresh in most of our minds,” Modispacher said. “There is an abundance of brush and other fuels in the area. A careless cigarette, match or fireworks may spark a very dangerous and devastating fire.

“There are many area that prohibit open camp fires, such as Topaz Lake,” he said. “There are also many areas which require a campfire permit. It is the responsibility of the camper to know the laws in the area you are enjoying.”

Other safety issues to be aware of are drinking and driving, careful driving and parking around Lake Tahoe.

The sheriff’s department is currently involved in a federally funded program to strictly enforce the DUI laws on Nevada’s highways.

“Not only will there be many regular officers on duty this holiday, but there will be several officers working special details thanks to federal funding,” Modispacher said.

“These extra officers will be concentrating on drivers who insist on operating vehicles while under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.”

Many of these officers are experts in the field of drug recognition and horizontal gaze nystagmus, the uncontrollable bouncing of the eyes in a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

“I can promise you that the Nevada Highway Patrol will be out in force,” he said. “Reason- the safety of all.”

Modispacher also advised drivers to be careful, drive defensively and use safety belts.

Another area of safety concern is people disregarding the “no parking” signs around the Lake.

The signs are placed in areas to insure safe passage of emergency vehicles.

“The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office is well aware that parking is limited at Lake Tahoe, but we are asking that motorists do not park where parking is prohibited,” Modispacher said. “Vehicles may be towed at the owner’s expense.”

“Plan ahead, leave early, park in a safe, well lit area and enjoy the festivities,” Modispacher said.

“If you live in Douglas County or are visiting Douglas County, have an enjoyable and safe holiday,” he added.

“Please do not put Sheriff’s officers in a position where a negative contact is required to correct a situation.”