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Officials Warn Against Fireworks Fires, Drunken Driving

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(credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

(credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Officials are urging Southland residents to reduce the risk of fires by shunning use of personal fireworks this Fourth of July, and they’re vowing to crack down on drunken drivers.

Far more fires are reported on July 4th than on any other day of the year, with fireworks accounting for 40 percent of them, more than any other cause, according to a report issued last month by the National Fire Protection Association, a Quincy, Mass.-based organization that bills itself as the world’s leading fire prevention advocate.

The risk of fireworks injury is highest for children 5 to 14 years old; it is more than twice the risk for the general population, the report said.

In 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available, fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 fires, resulting in eight civilian deaths, 60 civilian injuries and $36 million in direct property damage, the report found. Hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries in 2010, it said.

“Possession and use of fireworks in Los Angeles is illegal, and for good reason,” Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. “Every year, too many children are injured due to fireworks on the Fourth of July.

“I urge you to consider the legal ramifications, as well as the potential harm to the adults, children and landscape around you before you take hold of any illegal fireworks this holiday.”

The Los Angeles County DUI Task Force plans to deploy special saturation patrols Wednesday night, said Glendora Police Department Chief Rob Castro, the task force’s coordinator.

With Independence Day falling on a Wednesday and many people taking the rest of the week off, DUI checkpoints will be conducted beginning Thursday and continuing throughout the weekend, Castro said.

“The Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays due to an increase in impaired-driving fatalities,” Castro said.

“Too many people die behind the wheel due to those who choose to drive after drinking, so officers will be out in full force, showing zero tolerance for impaired drivers.”

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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