San Bernardino County Cracking Down On Sale, Use Of Illegal Fireworks With New Reporting Tool

After an explosion killed two in Ontario, San Bernardino County officials are hoping a new reporting and mapping tool will help them crackdown on the use and sale of illegal fireworks.

San Bernardino County Cracking Down On Sale, Use Of Illegal Fireworks With New Reporting Tool

ONTARIO (CBSLA) — It was just about lunchtime on a sunny Tuesday in March when Arlene Fierro started recording a series of fireworks exploding in her neighbor’s backyard.

“We have heard those sounds before,” she said. “So that was, I guess, the scarier part. We didn’t really expect it at all, because it was something that happened on the daily.”

Within minutes, as she ran inside to check on her family, came the massive and deadly bomb-like blast. Her family made it out OK, but Fierro’s mom is still traumatized by what they went through.

“I’m outside and my daughter’s in danger inside,” she said about the blast through tears.

Two men at the home were killed by what authorities said was a huge stash of illegal fireworks that they were possibly selling.

SEE MORE FROM THE MARCH 16 BLAST

Following the explosion, residents said they had reported the use of illegal fireworks to police numerous times. According to records kept by the Ontario Police Department, officers had responded to 50 illegal fireworks calls within a one block radius of the home in the past year — about one call per week — but nothing changed.

The Fierro family said they too had tried to report the activity before.

“I remember being pretty specific, saying, ‘My neighbor’s next door are doing illegal fireworks,'” Fierro said.

Just weeks after the blast, San Bernardino County Fire Department officials launched a new tool to help crack down on the use and sale of illegal fireworks, and the public reporting and mapping system has tips coming in by the minute.

The map shows where the most reporting activity has taken place over the last few weeks. Fire Marshal Mike Horton said the department then uses that information to help pinpoint where to send investigators.

HEAR MORE FROM FIRE MARSHAL MIKE HORTON

“We can deploy resources out and be more effective in the field and try to reduce the problem of fireworks in our county,” Horton said.

Fire officials said the popularity and profitability of illegal fireworks means an explosion like the one that rocked the Ontario neighborhood could easily happen again.

“It’s being sold out of residences, out of commercial properties, out of storage units,” Horton said. “It’s being advertised on social media.”

One report that came into the new system had a photo of someone selling illegal fireworks online. Over the past year, tons of illegal fireworks were seized in San Bernardino County — either purchased out of state, south of the border or even through ports like Long Beach.

“And that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Horton said.

He said the illegal firework trade can even have a larger profit margin these days than drugs.

“We see the discounts that people are getting on these fireworks,” Horton said. “Buy three boxes for the price of one.”

Horton said dealers then bring those fireworks back into the county and sell them online with an at least 100% profit margin — turning hundreds of dollars into thousands through illegal sales.

Mike Tockstein, with Pyrotechnic Innovations, said people can easily forget the dangers as they put on a show.

“You could be wearing the wrong clothing and cause an [electrostatic discharge] spark,” he said.

HEAR MORE FROM FIREWORKS PROFESSIONAL MIKE TOCKSTEIN

Over the past four years, San Bernardino County has confiscated more than 121,600 pounds of dangerous and illegal fireworks — enough to fill about three large semi-trucks — and issued more than 700 citations, but the sale and use of illegal fireworks continues to climb.

Fire investigators said they hope the new reporting system can help prevent another tragedy.

“It just makes me think that there’s little ticking time bombs in every city,” Fierro said. “It’s not going to really change unless people are reporting it, taking the picture and stuff, that’s the only helpful thing that I can think of, but it’s scary knowing that they’re out there.”

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as counties like Los Angeles and cities like Anaheim and Compton have all expressed interest in using the fireworks mapping system being used in San Bernardino County to curb the local sale and use of illegal fireworks.

Source : CBS Los Angeles More   

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FDA Grants Pfizer Emergency Use For COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Ages 12 To 15

In Hoboken, some high schoolers will get their first shots as early as Tuesday

FDA Grants Pfizer Emergency Use For COVID-19 Vaccine For Children Ages 12 To 15

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Food and Drug Administration is authorizing Pfizer‘s coronavirus vaccine for children ages 12 to 15.

Experts believe it’s another step in reopening schools nationwide this fall.

In Hoboken, some high schoolers will get their first shots as early as Tuesday, CBS2’s Jessica Layton reported.

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News that the two-dose Pfizer vaccine has the blessing of the feds is something parent Michelle Esteban has been anxiously awaiting for.

“I’d hate for any other child to go through what my daughter went through,” Esteban said.

Eleven-year-old Miya had COVID-19 in the fall and often still feels fatigued. But after she turns 12 this August, both she and her mom can breathe a little easier.

“So getting the vaccine, for me, is like I can hang out with my friends on Saturdays,” Miya said.

“It’s amazing because I feel like my daughter can be protected,” Esteban said.

READ MORE: COVID Vaccine In NYC: Pop-Up Vaccination Sites Across City Offer Johnson & Johnson Shot To Tourists

Most parents are curious about side effects. CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook said the response in kids during trials was similar to adults, with reactions typically lasting a day or two.

“We have found as this pandemic has gone along that more and more kids, percentage-wise, are getting infected,” LaPook said.

Infections in children are up 4% in the last two weeks. In fact, nearly a quarter of all new cases were in kids.

“Vaccinating a younger population brings us closer to returning to a sense of normalcy,” Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said.

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On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced all SUNY and CUNY students will need to be fully vaccinated to come back on campus.

READ MORE: COVID Impact: Experts Say Loosening Of Mask-Wearing Restrictions Indoors Will Depend On Handful Of Factors

This all comes at a time more people are wondering when we can ditch the mask indoors. Dr. Anthony Fauci said that depends on a lot of factors.

“You’re going to want to have good ventilation. You’re going to have to make sure that indoors, when you have unvaccinated people, that people wear a mask,” Fauci said.

That reinforces the need to get the youngest generation their shots as soon as it’s possible.

“I definitely believe in science. I definitely believe that this will help,” Esteban said.

The CDC is expected to give its final approval on Wednesday. When it does, 12-15-year-olds could start getting vaccinated that same day.

CBS2’s Jessica Layton contributed to this report

Source : CBS News York More   

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