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Be Safe & Sane For Holiday
Escalon Azores Band put in a bid for the first time this year on running a fireworks stand and were successful, with their booth set up at The Barn, just west of the railroad tracks on Highway 120 heading out of town. Here, Sandra Brasil bags up a purchase while Melissa Silva, in the background, does some paperwork. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

With near triple digit heat forecast for Friday, July 4 and multiple fireworks stands now in business, Escalon fire officials are urging residents to be extremely careful this long holiday weekend.

“It’s important, everybody needs to be reminded that safe and sane fireworks are only legal in the city, not in any of the rural area or the county,” noted Escalon Fire Chief Rick Mello.

With dry conditions, ripe for fire, Mello said those planning to use even the ‘safe’ fireworks need to be cautious, follow the safety rules and make sure they have a water source readily available in case of fire.

“Quite honestly, Escalon has been pretty good,” Mello said of people keeping illegal fireworks to a minimum.

There are always some of the airborne variety set off, noted officials, but there will be extra patrols and a special ‘strike team’ detail of fire departments ready to respond anywhere in the county for fireworks-related incidents.

“The county is putting two task forces in place, one in the north and one in the south, they will be on duty from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. on July 4,” Mello explained. “There will be multiple types of units, we will provide a water tender, they will be together and move as a unit.”

Farmington Fire Department will also participate in the task force effort.

Mello said Riverbank, in Stanislaus County, and Ripon in San Joaquin County typically have more of the illegal fireworks set off, but Escalon and the rest of San Joaquin County are not immune.

“Tolerance is going to be a lot lower,” he said, noting that people caught with the illegal fireworks will likely face stiff penalties, especially in light of the heightened fire danger this year.

Meanwhile, groups are now selling the Safe and Sane fireworks at four locations around the community.

Escalon Parks Foundation has its stand open 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. now through Thursday, July 3 and will be open 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Friday, July 4, located in the Escalon Shopping Center, adjacent to Hula’s and D’Boni’s on Jackson Avenue. Their proceeds will help with development of a community skateboard park.

The Escalon Azores Band has the booth at The Barn, their first time running one, and proceeds will help with renovations at the First Street band hall and helping pay off a trip to the Azores taken by the band. They are opening at 9 a.m. both Wednesday and Thursday, at 8 a.m. Friday, staying open until 9 p.m.

The booths can remain open until midnight on Friday.

Other groups and locations include Trinity Church in the Mar Val Main Street Market parking lot off McHenry in the Vineyard Square shopping center; and Escalon Covenant Church at Big Boy Market on Jackson Avenue.

Escalon Covenant, meanwhile, hosted its annual Fourth of July Celebration at Hogan Park on Sunday, June 29 and welcomed the community in for an afternoon and evening of food, music, fun and fireworks. Dinner was served for a minimal price, kids could enjoy watermelon eating contests and a bounce house, while there was also a horseshoe tournament. Festivities continued until the wrap up fireworks display.

Friday, July 4 is a federal holiday and the Escalon city offices will be closed, along with banks and the post office. Businesses have the option of closing, the Escalon Times office will be closed in observance of the holiday.