A sampling of fireworks that are illegal in San Diego County. (Epic Fireworks/Flickr)

For many Americans, the Fourth of July isn’t complete without fireworks. But if you’re thinking of firing off a few in San Diego County, don’t.

Why this matters

Brush fires have become a way of life in San Diego County and California, with 2017 the worst in terms of deaths and acres burned.

Fireworks are illegal everywhere in the county. That means no sparklers, firecrackers, cherry bombs, bottle rockets or poppers. Even fireworks labeled “safe and sane” are banned.

Those caught with fireworks could face a fine and a year in jail. The fine is based on the size of the illegal fireworks cache and can range from $1,000 to $50,000.

But if that doesn’t stop you, Cal Fire spokesman Kendal Bortisser said the dry landscape should.

“This year, 2018, saw another decline in rainfall so our fuels throughout San Diego County, they’re drought-stricken, they’re dead, they’re dying, and they’re ready to burn,” Bortisser said.

By the numbers

Cal Fire compiles statewide statistics on fires and their causes, and the numbers are startling when it comes to fireworks.

From 2013 to 2017, fireworks started 3,125 fires in California — with 37 percent of them occurring on the Fourth of July.

Fireworks-related blazes also have been increasing annually since 2014.

The reason for that, Bortisser said, could be people are “taking advantage of fireworks that are outside of California and bringing them into the state.”

Fireworks-related fires in California: 2013-2017

YearFireworks FiresProperty LossAcres BurnedCivilian Injuries

Source: Cal Fire

Most of the damage in 2014 came from the Monticello fire when fireworks on July 4 sparked a 6,488-acre blaze in Yolo County, injuring five people.

Despite these numbers, nearly 300 California communities permit state-approved fireworks for consumers. You can check out the list here.

But Bortisser said Cal Fire would prefer you leave the fireworks to the professionals. Head here for a list of Fourth of July events and fireworks shows in San Diego County.


We’ll let you know when big things happen.

Shyla Nott was the digital content manager at inewsource. While at her role, she ran the website, social media accounts, and curated The Weekender newsletter. She came to inewsource by way of the Midwest where she was the producer for All Sides with Ann Fisher, a daily live public-affairs talk show at...