LA Was Lit For July 4th, But In A Super Illegal, Tree-Burning Way

(Photo courtesy the Los Angeles Police Protective League via Twitter)

Anyone who was in the Los Angeles area Wednesday night knows all too well that the city/county "zero-tolerance" policy message on illegal fireworks was ... not received. Maybe people couldn't hear it over all those KA-BOOMS.

The view from NBC Los Angeles' news chopper said it all.

Rattling homes, scared pets, sleep deprivation — L.A. Twitter was flooded with these types of complaints thanks to the thunderous abundance of explosives set off in neighborhoods across the Southland. The many blasts and resulting smoke was also terrible for our air quality — as if that would be a deterrent in what's regularly ranked the most air-polluted region in America.

And of course, what Independence Day in Southern California is complete without a tree catching fire (especially a palm tree)?

Thankfully, no structures in the city of L.A. caught fire due to Wednesday night's fireworks, according to Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Unsurprisingly, Independence Day is one of the busiest days of year for the LAFD. The agency responded to more than 600 emergencies overnight.

Solid data on the number of fireworks-related injuries or fires sparked by pyrotechnics won't be available for a while, L.A. city and county fire officials said, but Humphrey did acknowledge that "dozens" of blazes were sparked in trees and other vegetation throughout the city.

Fireworks have been illegal in Los Angeles since WWII, Humphrey said, and the city didn't launch a serious public education campaign until the early '80s.

All the city's PSAs since then don't seem to have made a dent — and Mayor Eric Garcetti's widely viewed video of a watermelon exploding via firecracker seems to have had the opposite effect he was going for.

So how will L.A. officials know if Angelenos are popping off fewer fireworks? They basically can't. The one metric the LAFD uses to measure success is the number of fireworks-related injuries, Humphrey said, though that alone doesn't speak to just how many illegal fireworks are or are not lighting up city skies every year.


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