Modesto raises fine for illegal fireworks

You won't find traditional fireworks shows in Modesto or Turlock on July 4, but taking the party into your own hands could net increasingly expensive fines for Modesto residents.

The City Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to raise the municipal fine for shooting illegal fireworks to $1,000, a $250 increase.

Fire Chief Jim Miguel said the penalty is intended to be a deterrent, not necessarily to recover the costs of enforcing the law. Charities that sell legal fireworks help pay for those charges.

"If they get caught with a $1,000 fine, chances are they're not going to do it next year," Councilman Dave Lopez said.

Fireworks are illegal in the state if they shoot in the air or explode. People have a four-day window to use "safe and sane" fireworks around Independence Day.

City leaders worry that more people will turn to illegal fireworks this year because several marquee events aren't taking place on Independence Day.

The annual show at California State University, Stanislaus, is on hold this year.

Modesto's fireworks celebration is scheduled to take place July 3 after a Modesto Nuts game instead of Saturday, July 4. A parade is scheduled for downtown, followed by a picnic at Graceada Park and a laser show at Enslen Park.

"It's going to be even worse on you, I think, because the fireworks aren't going to be there," Mayor Jim Ridenour said to Miguel and Fire Division Chief Mike Payton.

Other council members noted that people haven't had trouble obtaining and using illegal fireworks in years when the big shows took place in Modesto and Turlock.

"As a citizen who's home every Fourth of July, we're losing the battle," Councilman Will O'Bryant said, urging strict enforcement this year.

Bee staff writer Adam Ashton can be reached at or 578-2366.