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Fire Officials Urge Caution
Safety First
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Community residents are encouraged to join the festivities on Friday, as the Escalon Covenant Church hosts its annual community Independence Day Celebration. The gathering, this year on July 3, is open to all and is staged at the Escalon Community Center Park. Activities run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and a barbecue dinner will be served from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., including barbecued hamburgers and hot dogs, chips, watermelon, drinks and more.

Suggested donation to attend is $3 per person, with a maximum cost of $10 per family. The festivities include games, music, food and fun, all with a patriotic, family-oriented theme. Tickets are available at Escalon Covenant Church or at D’Boni’s Pizza. Call the church at 838-7600 or online at

And while the Fourth of July is a great time to gather with family and friends to honor our nation’s independence, this year officials are urging everyone to play it safe, especially when it comes to the use of fireworks.

San Joaquin County Fire Chiefs Association President Ed Martel said the holiday is also a time in which fire departments, law enforcement agencies and emergency rooms become extremely busy. Severe burns, traumatic injuries, blindness and even death are often the results of Fourth of July celebrations gone badly. Pets are also often victims of the noise of fireworks; make sure they are in a safe and secure place.

The Office of the California State Fire Marshal offers these safety guidelines for the use of Safe and Sane fireworks:

Local ordinances should be verified before purchasing and/or using fireworks; always read directions; always have an adult present; use fireworks outdoors only; never use near dry grass or other flammable materials.

Also, light one at a time; keep a safe distance; never point or throw fireworks at another person; never experiment with fireworks; have a bucket of water and a hose handy.

Never attempt to re-light or “fix” fireworks; do not wear loose fitting clothing; never carry fireworks in your pockets; remember, fireworks are not toys.

Use only State Fire Marshal approved fireworks (look for the seal).

All fireworks are illegal in the unincorporated areas of San Joaquin County. No one under the age of 18 can purchase, sell or use fireworks. Also, parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks.

“Be safe, be sane,” urged Martel. “The San Joaquin County Fire Chiefs Association wishes you and yours a safe and sane Fourth of July.”

Meanwhile, CAL FIRE is reminding all Californians and visitors to do their part to prevent fires caused by illegal fireworks or the misuse of “Safe and Sane” fireworks. On Sunday, June 28, “Safe and Sane” Fireworks went on sale in approximately 300 communities throughout California, including Escalon.

“As we head into the fourth summer of a severe drought, it is more important than ever that everyone use an abundance of caution to avoid sparking a fire,” said Chief Ken Pimlott, director of CAL FIRE. “Here in California we have a zero tolerance for the use and sale of illegal fireworks.”

There are also legal ramifications when it comes to certain types of fireworks. Possession of illegal fireworks such as sky rockets, bottle rockets, roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers and other types that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner can lead to a possible fine of up to $50,000 as well as prison time or jail for up to one year. Even “Safe and Sane” Fireworks taken into a city or county where they are banned are considered illegal.

“Safe and Sane Fireworks are only as safe as they are used,” said State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover. “Last year alone there were over 300 fires sparked by fireworks. We want everyone to enjoy their celebrations in a safe and legal manner.”