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Officials Crack Down On Illegal Fireworks, Underage Drinking And More

Several white and orange fireworks are seen in the night sky over the Santa Monica Pier, where the Ferris wheel is lit up in blue, purple and green.
A fireworks show at the Santa Monica Pier
(Photo by karlo via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr)
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Cities throughout Southern California are cracking down on illegal fireworks and other prohibited behavior this Fourth of July weekend.

In L.A., Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas underscored the danger that fireworks pose in a recent statement. He referenced the explosion that occurred in South L.A. earlier this week, during what was supposed to be a controlled detonation of illegal fireworks by the L.A. Police Department's bomb squad. At least 16 people were injured in the blast, and several cars and homes were damaged.

"As we saw Wednesday night here in L.A., fireworks cause significant damage,” Terrazas said. “We're fortunate that no one was killed, or severely injured."

Terrazas added that the continued drought conditions increase the risk of large brush fires, like the Palisades Fire, which broke out in May.

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The City of Long Beach recently announced increased fines for the use or sale of illegal fireworks. City officials said the charges account for the cost of police enforcement, having the fire department confiscate and destroy fireworks, and additional work the city attorney's office has to do to investigate.

Long Beach Assistant City Manager Linda Tatum said officials posted notices about the new penalty around firework hot spots, and hopes it will be a strong deterrent.

“We've estimated roughly that those fines can be as high as twenty thousand,” she said.

Officials in Hermosa Beach will also be stepping up enforcement, not just for illegal fireworks but also for underage drinking, public intoxication, and driving under the influence.

Hermosa Beach Police Chief Paul LeBaron said people who are caught drinking on the beach could face a citation or even arrest.

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"We're as excited as anybody to have a normal Fourth of July again,” he said. “But ... if people want to celebrate dangerously, the police department will be out there, and will be enforcing all the applicable laws.”

For underage drinking, the fine begins at $2,5000 dollars for a first offense, and doubles each time after that.