Despite a weeks-long lead-up of warnings about illegal fireworks, some Yuba-Sutter residents seemed surprised to be handed $1,000 fines Thursday.
“Some people were surprised we were actually enforcing it,” said Sutter County Sheriff’s Capt. Chad Niswonger.
The $1,000 fine for use of illegal fireworks was first enacted by Yuba City in 2017. Last summer, Sutter County also adopted the ordinance, though the sheriff’s office only received a few days’ notice before the holiday and didn’t have all the tools necessary for strict enforcement , Niswonger said.
This year, deputies relayed to residents the zero-tolerance policy. Some asked for a break, but Niswonger said deputies were strict — they issued 15 citations. With six extra deputies patrolling Thursday and three extra deputies in Live Oak, they remained busy all evening responding to fireworks-related calls. One problem area was south of Franklin Road to Bogue Road.
“We were really quite busy but even when we were out there citing people, we were getting positive feedback from neighbors,” Niswonger said.
The Marysville Fire Department quickly extinguished a grass fire caused by the community fireworks show in the river bottoms area – that despite having conducted a controlled burn weeks earlier. The grass had dried out significantly, creating the opportunity for embers to catch. Still, it wasn’t too much of a worry for personnel.
“We pretty much expected it because of where they had to shoot,” Fire Chief Ron Karlen said.
Firefighters also responded to a dumpster fire around 1 a.m. caused by fireworks that had been discarded earlier in the evening. The department upped staffing to two units with help from volunteer firefighters in anticipation of a busy night, Karlen said. But there were more fireworks-related fires last year, he said, and while there was still illegal activity, it wasn’t as hectic this year. He hopes it correlates with the community show.
“All in all, it wasn’t too bad,” Karlen said Friday. “Overall, to me, it felt like it was less intense than last year as far as the magnitude.”
Yuba City police issued between 15 and 20 citations for use of illegal fireworks, Lt. Jim Runyen said. He said southwest Yuba City was a problem area – Happy Park and Bogue Road. But, he said there were fewer citations issued than last year – 38 fines were issued – which he hopes was a result of the first community fireworks show.
Yuba City Fire analyst Bill Fuller said north Yuba City seemed quieter than past years, though the area of Bogue Road remained a problem with illegal fireworks. But he said the large turnout for the community fireworks show proved promising.
“The goal was to get people to participate in a community fireworks event and maybe turn them away from some of the illegal fireworks,” Fuller said. “I think that’s a huge success at getting people more directed toward a community event.”
While there’s no fine for use of illegal fireworks in Yuba County, deputies were busy responding.
From July 1 through Friday morning, the Yuba County Sheriff’s Office responded to 82 complaint calls for fireworks, and expect more over the next several days, spokesperson Leslie Carbah said. Yuba County waterways (Camp Far West Lake, Bullards Bar, Collins Lake, Englebright Lake, and the Yuba and Feather rivers) were extremely busy for the holiday, but there were no major incidents.
Though the response to fireworks complaints increased this year (compared to the 53 calls last year), Carbah said it’s hard to know if it’s because there were more fireworks, or more residents felt compelled to report them because of recent wildfires and publicity for fireworks safety.