Steve Gallegos, a division chief with Cal Fire and Riverside County Fire, spoke about the dangers of fireworks during a news conference at the Ben Clark Training Center in Riverside. (Mediha Fejzagic DiMartino/Staff Photographer)
RIVERSIDE - Don't use fireworks.
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The message couldn't be any clearer during a news conference Wednesday morning by Riverside County Fire Department, Sheriff's Department and Board of Supervisors.

To drive the point home, officials from the departments later lit a fuse on a Mexican-style firework to blow the fingers off a human-like doll in a Ben Clark Training Center field.

"This is a common injury," sheriff's Sgt. Robert Moquin said. "There's a big danger with the fuse."

Last year, between June 27 and July 5 in Riverside County, there were 68 fires related to fireworks, county Fire Chief John Hawkins said.

San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties are also putting out news releases and offering tips for people about fireworks, which are illegal in most areas of the two counties.

In Ontario, signs are set up telling people they should not use fireworks.

To prove their point, police will not hesitate to fine violators $1,000 and confiscate fireworks. There is even a possibility of jail time.

"We want to take as much of this stuff off the street as possible," Ontario fire Investigator Frank Huddleston said.

"Yeah, it's a big problem," Pomona fire Capt. Gil Sanchez said.

"We find that to be a problem as well as gunfire so we encourage everyone to see professional fireworks" at Fairplex.

In addition to fines, the Fire Department will confiscate the fireworks, he said.

"We do take in quite a few fireworks throughout the year. It gets more and more heavy throughout the Fourth of July holiday," Sanchez said.

Kelley Donaldson, Rancho Cucamonga fire spokeswoman, said the fine for fireworks - which are not legal in the city - is $1,000 or more depending on the amount. "Ontario and us are hitting it hard," Donaldson said.

Fireworks are legal in Fontana and Chino.

Chino Valley Independent Fire District spokesman Ryan Dacko said Chino has been fortunate to not have too many firework-related injuries. In the city, fireworks must be shot off in residential areas.

One can use fireworks if they are safe and sane, Dacko said.

At the end of the demonstration on Wednesday, police and fire officials said they wanted people to be aware of the injuries and property damage caused by fireworks.

Cpl. Frank Anderson of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department Hazardous Device Team said his department would not cite anyone who voluntarily gave them their fireworks.

Staff writer Wes Woods II can be reached by e-mail at, or by phone at (909) 483-9378.

Cities announce rules for fireworks

Chino: Ryan Dacko, spokesman for Chino Valley Independent Fire District, said safe and sane fireworks are only allowed in residential areas such as housing complexes. They're not allowed in school areas, parks or parking lots. If the safe and sane fireworks are used outside the designated areas there can be a $500 fine. Illegal fireworks have a $1,000 fine.

Chino Hills: No fireworks are allowed. Fines are given to violators but the exact amount was not specified on Wednesday night.

Claremont: No fireworks are allowed. Police Capt. Gary Jenkins said the fine is $100 for having illegal fireworks. Jenkins said those caught with larger illegal fireworks will be arrested. The case could be tried as a misdemeanor.

Fontana: Sgt. Douglas Wagner, police spokesman, said safe and sane fireworks are legal in the city area of Fontana. Having illegal fireworks is a fine of $1,000 or more with possible jail time.

La Verne: No fireworks are allowed. A person can be charged with a misdemeanor with more dangerous fireworks like cherry bombs and bottle rockets for example. Anyone caught with illegal fireworks would be cited and given a date to appear in court.

Montclair: No fireworks are allowed. Chief Layne Shiba said the city's fine is $500, though the penalty could be more severe with more dangerous fireworks.

Ontario: No fireworks are allowed. Ontario fire Investigator Frank Huddleston said there is a fine of $1,000 and possible jail time for having fireworks.

Rancho Cucamonga: No fireworks are allowed. Kelley Donaldson, fire spokeswoman, said there is a $1,000 fine for having them.

Rialto: Safe and sane fireworks are allowed. The use of illegal fireworks could result in fines of $1,000 for the first offense and $2,000 for the second offense.

Upland: No fireworks are allowed. Fire Marshal Lou Steslicki said the city will issue citations with the amount of the fine to be determined by the court.

In unincorporated areas of the Jurupa Valley in Riverside County, fireworks are illegal. There are penalties of $500 to $1,000 for having fireworks and possible jail time. A second conviction can be punished with a $1,000 fine and imprisonment in the county jail for one year.

In Los Angeles County areas of Pomona, Diamond Bar and San Dimas, fireworks are illegal. Fines range from $500 to $1,000 with possible imprisonment in county jail. Having one pound or more of gunpowder is a felony and is punishable of imprisonment of up to one year and/or up to $5,000 fine.

- Wes Woods II, Marilee Lorusso