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Fillmore's Boom Business Begins

As the Fourth of July holiday nears, several of the 25 nonprofits allowed to sell fireworks by the city open their stands.

June 29, 2004|Gregory W. Griggs | Times Staff Writer

As the only city in Ventura County to sell fireworks, Fillmore is always a popular destination in the week leading up to the Fourth of July.

That was the case again Monday when the sale of so-called "safe and sane fireworks" -- which do not explode or lift into the air -- got underway in several stands along both sides of Ventura Street near downtown. Hundreds were lured to the small town for sparklers, flashing wheels and spinning blossoms.

Susan Young, an insurance underwriter, said she drove from Sherman Oaks to secure her annual allotment of fireworks. She brought her 10-year-old son, Maxwell, and a friend to patronize their favorite booth, operated by Fillmore Search and Rescue.

"We've been coming here since he was 3 years old," Young said of her son. "The people here are always so nice, and it's good to be able to help a good cause."

The 25 Fillmore nonprofits allowed to sell the pyrotechnics expect to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their organizations, which include the Boys & Girls Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Chamber of Commerce and several 4-H groups, said Steve McClary, spokesman for the city.

With an ongoing drought and an early fire season, Ventura County Fire Marshal Diane Morgan is urging residents to forgo personal fireworks displays and attend a public holiday event instead.

"We hope we can convince people to go to the professional, organized displays being put on by nearly every city. You get a much better show and they're a lot safer," said Morgan.

She said county inspectors, arson investigators and several dozen volunteers from Ojai to Oak Park would be on patrol from Friday through Sunday to help cut down on the illegal use of fireworks. Oxnard authorities said violators in their city will face a $1,000 fine.

Acting on tips from residents, Fillmore Fire Chief Pat Askren said his department confiscated half a pickup-truck load of illegal fireworks within the last two weeks. He said truckloads of dangerous fireworks -- such as bottle rockets, Roman candles and cherry bombs -- are brought into the state for sale every year from Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Mexico.

Askren said responsible adults should treat fireworks with the same care they would handguns, by keeping them away from minors and never using them while intoxicated.

"That's 12,000 degrees on the end of a [fireworks fuse], and it burns skin really quickly," he said.

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