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Trash Crews and Dogs Have Their Post-Holiday Day

Celebrations: With the July 4 party over, there are tons of litter to be cleaned up, and many fireworks-frazzled pets to be reunited with owners.

July 06, 2001|SARAH HALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cleaning crews celebrated the fifth of July by picking up trash--49 tons of it--from Los Angeles County beaches.

Animal shelters marked the day after Independence Day by trying to find the owners of dogs picked up after fleeing noisy fireworks.

And a few county residents spent the day nursing injuries from illegal fireworks.

But authorities reported no major injuries or accidents during the traditional night of patriotic revelry.

By 5 a.m. Thursday, cleaning crews were sweeping county beaches and collecting lawn chairs, wallets and remnants of blown firecrackers. The volume of trash was up significantly from last year's 35 tons, said Wayne Schumaker of the Department of Beaches and Harbors.

"The parking lots looked like landfills," Schumaker said.

Los Angeles County lifeguards estimated that 1.5 million people visited the beaches Wednesday, about 200,000 fewer than last year. Cloudy weather and the midweek date might have discouraged a larger turnout, officials said.

Animal shelters also were busy Thursday trying to pair up lost dogs with their owners. Loud firecrackers can hurt dogs' sensitive ears and startle them into running away.

At the Pasadena Humane Society, at least 12 dogs--spooked by lights and noise from a fireworks show at the Rose Bowl--were brought in. A "stack of lost dog reports" also were filed, said society spokeswoman Ricki Whitman.

"I've heard of dogs who will jump six-foot fences just to get away from a firecracker," she said. "July 5 is our busiest day of the year."

Los Angeles area fire and police authorities fielded back-to-back calls Wednesday from people reporting everything from illegal fireworks to rowdy neighbors to traffic problems. The Los Angeles Police Department logged 15,707 calls, 8,600 of which were emergencies. That was 3,300 calls more than the day before.

Despite the high number of calls, most of the incidents were minor, officials said.

In Long Beach, a 2-year-old girl suffered second-degree burns on her back after an illegal, still burning six-inch rocket fell into her stroller, setting her T-shirt on fire.

The child, Katelyn Gomez of Los Angeles, was with her family about 8:30 p.m. at a parking lot waiting to watch the annual Queen Mary fireworks display. Her mother, Elizabeth Gomez, and lifeguards nearby helped snuff out the flames. The girl was treated at St. Mary's Medical Center in Long Beach.

'Joke' Is Painful for Wilmington Boy

A 12-year-old Wilmington boy also was injured by a firecracker, Long Beach fire officials said. Felipe Gallegos was hit near his left eye when a 16-year-old friend threw a firecracker at him as a joke.

Los Angeles County lifeguards on holiday duty rescued 214 people--slightly below last year's figure. No drownings were reported.

However, in Laguna Beach, Orange County sheriff's deputies and dive crews continued to search Thursday for a Costa Mesa man who disappeared about 3:10 p.m. Wednesday. Donald Jason Huntress, 33, jumped off a friend's boat near Emerald Bay to go swimming. Witnesses said he came up for air at least once, but then disappeared, said sheriff's spokesman Jon Fleischman.

Deputies believe the man may have drowned, Fleischman said.

Elsewhere in the Southland, Newport Beach police officers arrested more than 100 people Wednesday, many for alcohol-related offenses.

Four people suffered minor injuries about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday when their 35-foot boat struck a buoy and began to sink near Long Beach. A nearby sailboat picked up all six people on board, said Lt. Rich Molloy, a Coast Guard spokesman.

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