NARTINEZ (BCN) — The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday strengthened its fireworks ordinance as California slides into what’s expected to be one of its most dangerous fire seasons on record.
Under the new ordinance, owners can be held responsible for anyone using fireworks on their property and in their vessels. The Sheriff’s Office can now fine them $100 for an initial violation, $200 for a second one within the same year, and $500 for each additional violation within the same year.READ MORE: Former Broadmoor Police Chief Michael Connolly Charged With Conflict Of Interest
“Illegal fireworks pose a danger to our communities and a drain on our system,” Board chairperson Diane Burgis said in a statement.
“We simply don’t have the resources to address this continued problem. I would encourage the cities to follow suit and send the message that illegal fireworks will not be tolerated in Contra Costa County.”
Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Lewis Broschard III said fire season has arrived early this year, with some Antioch residents already losing their homes on Memorial Day thanks to a fire started by illegal fireworks.
“The use of illegal fireworks caused a recent fire in our county that destroyed two apartment buildings and displaced 30 residents,” Broschard said in a statement. “Playing with illegal fireworks is dangerous and poses the very real possibility of causing wildland fires that could easily destroy homes and threaten lives in this time of critically high fire risk. We urge everyone to follow the regulations and stay safe.”
“I think if we could get some convictions, some serious fines,” explained Richmond Mayor Tom Butt. “I think the word would get out and people would think twice about doing this.”
Calling it an everyday problem now, Richmond will begin offering $2,500 for any tip that leads to a fine or an arrest. That means residents would be reporting on each other.
“No way,” said Diana Corbett. “Because I like my neighbors. And I wouldn’t turn anybody in unless I thought it was dangerous.”READ MORE: Cause of Death Still Unknown for Gray Whale That Washed Up at SF's Ocean Beach
That is the one factor local officials want everyone to be thinking about.
“Well, there is concern about fire,” Butt said. “Just last week, 40 people were burned out of an apartment, in another area near Antioch.”
“You need to think about what you’re doing, and how good of a neighbor you are being,” said Contra Costa Supervisor Diane Burgis.
The ordinance also applies to anyone using a vacation rental home, and the county wants cities to fall in line with those rules. Richmond, for one, will be doing that.
“Right now it’s done with impunity,” Butt said. “So why does anybody care?”
County residents can learn more about wildfire preparedness in the county at https://bit.ly/2RAm3lH. Residents are encouraged to sign up for the Contra Costa County Community Warning System to get emergency alerts at cwsalerts.com.
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Wilson Walker contributed to this report.