In case you forgot, fireworks are illegal in Douglas County |

In case you forgot, fireworks are illegal in Douglas County

Merrie Leininger

The Fourth of July brings to mind the colorful excitement of fireworks for many people, but the East Fork Fire Department wants people to know that type of celebration won’t be allowed in Douglas County.

It has been unlawful to detonate fireworks in the county since a county ordinance was passed in 1952 and since 1992, it has been illegal to store fireworks in the county. This includes every type of fireworks including bottle rockets, sparklers and firecrackers.

“We get some every year. A lot of areas surrounding us, you can buy them readily and bring them here. Local people are pretty well intuned, but we get a lot of visitors,” said East Fork Fire Marshal Steve Eisele.

Eisele said it is especially critical this year.

“One of the biggest problems is the threat of fire with the extreme dry conditions that the county is in right now. The conditions are just right now for a grass or brush fire,” he said. “All the grasses and light brushes are drying out faster than normal this year. It has put us ahead in the fire conditions for the year.”

He said it takes one errant spark into dry grass to cause an out-of-control fire.

“We’re not in a coastal area where the grasses are (green). When something goes astray, it’s going to be a big deal real quick,” Eisele said.

Eisele said people have been abiding by the law for the most part for the last few years, but that doesn’t mean the law won’t be enforced.

“I know the sheriff’s department is looking for problems when they are patrolling,” he said.

The fire department will be posting no fireworks signs in convenience stores and at Topaz Lake Campground.

People can turn in fireworks to the department without fear of prosecution and the department will destroy them.

Anyone found with fireworks will be issued a misdemeanor citation. The maximum sentence is 6 months in jail or a $1,000 fine.

That’s not the only cost associated with playing with fireworks, Eisele said. Anyone found to have caused a fire can be held accountable for the cost of putting out the fire.

“A good example is a couple of young boys were playing with fireworks a couple of years ago in Reno and they had to pay thousands, if not millions, for the cost of the wildland fire they started,” Eisele said. “It can be very expensive to put out a wildland fire. The cost of the aircraft and the personnel, and every time they use a load of retardant, it can cost between $2,000 and $4,000. Then, if it spreads to structures, the costs add up quickly.”

The cost of playing with fireworks can include serious injury, Eisele said.

“We haven’t had any in the last few years, but in prior years, we’ve had hand injuries, eye injuries and people who were burned. It’s very easy for someone to lose fingers and other parts of the anatomy, especially if people are under the influence and not paying attention. Innocent bystanders can get hurt easily.”

Anyone can bring illegal fireworks to the fire department’s administration offices in the Minden Inn, 1594 Esmeralda Ave., Minden.

For more information, contact Fire Marshal Steve Eisele at 782-9041.