Fireworks – How Festive! But A Bit Early For July 4, Perhaps?

I hate fireworks.

And if you love them, don’t bother to read anymore.

I’ve long thought that fireworks were much ado about nothing. 

You get in your car, possibly with young children (because teens are way to cool for this), and drive to the fireworks show in bumper-to-bumper traffic with all the other people who love – or pretend to love – fireworks.

Then you watch the fireworks. 

Then you get back in your car, the kids up way past their bedtime and cranky, and sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic with all the other people who love – or pretend to love – fireworks.

In the car, the kids have already forgotten about the fireworks.  By morning, you will have, too.

Here in California, fireworks are an especially bad idea because of our ongoing drought conditions:

Which is one of the reasons why, in California, fireworks are illegal in many places.

One of those places is Ontario, about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.  If you’re a resident of Ontario and you’re not sure about the legality of fireworks, you can easily find out, just as I did:

I suspect that the people associated with a home in the 400 block of West Francis Street knew this.

But that didn’t stop them from stockpiling a massive amount of illegal fireworks.

Which led to a massive explosion on March 16, just after 12:30pm:

Two known deaths.

Three people injured.

The home destroyed.

The blasts rained down debris – including ammunition and large nails – over 80 properties, and windows were blown out in homes blocks away: 

At least $3.2 million worth of damage, officials said Friday.

Evacuations of more than 100 displaced residents – 24 families – in the surrounding neighborhood that will remain in place for days, while the fire department’s bomb technicians work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to dispose of unexploded fireworks at the scene of the explosion.

“Approximately 60 27-gallon boxes or cases of unexploded fireworks at this point,” Ontario Fire Department Chief Ray Gayk said on Wednesday.

Gayk also said 24 bomb technicians from three counties have been called in to assist in the process.

The FBI is involved, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Imagine yourself in one of the nearby houses.  It’s lunchtime, nothing much going on.  Suddenly, a massive explosion.  Another explosion.  Was it a plane crash?  A gas pipeline?  A terrorist attack?  Your kids are terrified.  You’re terrified.  What should you do?  What can you do?

Imagine looking out your window and seeing this:

Eventually, a police officer arrives at your door, briefly explains the situation, and tells you that you must evacuate.  No, she or he doesn’t know for how long.  But you must go, now.

Where will you go?

Now let’s tally up just some of the costs to the taxpayers: Police, fire department, those 24 bomb technicians, the EPA, the FBI, and the ATF. 

Every one of these public servants endangering their lives, working in an area littered with unexploded fireworks.

As of Friday, experts had burned nearly 200 bins – each holding about 27 gallons – full of fireworks to safely destroy them, Ontario spokesman Dan Bell said.  Other fireworks were too dangerous to move and had to be burned at the scene.

These are people with critical jobs, people who could be needed elsewhere, but instead are involved in this tragedy.

We may never know why the stockpile of fireworks in the house on West Francis Street exploded.

Or why the people associated with this were stockpiling fireworks.

I suspect they anticipated selling the merchandise prior to July 4.

Because so many people, for reasons that escape me, just have to get their firework fix.

I’m betting the police, fire department, those 24 bomb technicians, the EPA, the FBI, and the ATF aren’t fans of fireworks.

I’m betting they agree with me:


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