If you want to see professionally produced Fourth of July fireworks shows in San Luis Obispo County this year, you’ll have to go to Cayucos or Pismo Beach, now that Cambria has joined Paso Robles and Morro Bay in opting out of the annual tradition.
Cambria’s show was canceled Monday after representatives from American Legion Post No. 432, the fire department and other officials agreed that holding a fireworks show this year would be irresponsible, given the crisis-level fire risk in the town’s 3,200-acre, tinder-dry Monterey pine forest.
The town is under a fire-risk emergency declaration.
Cambria’s other Independence Day activities will go forward as scheduled — from the waiter-waitress race and live-band music with dancing to a variety of food, beverage and activity booths, plus organized and individual games — according to Legion post Cmdr. Dave Ehlers. Also, the county’s Shamel Park pool will be open from 1 to 5 p.m.
Legion leaders also are “evaluating the possibility of hosting a twilight big-band pops concert to complement Cambria’s all-day, all-American, family-oriented Independence Day patriotic celebration,” Ehlers said.
Cambria Fire Chief Mark Miller said he was saddened by the need to turn down the Legion’s fireworks permit application for this year’s event, but given the town’s fire-danger situation, he didn’t see any alternative.
Pyro Spectaculars, the professional firm that provides Cambria’s annual show, has agreed to return the Legion’s deposit for this year’s exhibition, Miller said.
Some communities, such as Templeton, San Miguel, Arroyo Grande, Grover Beach and Oceano, have allowed the sale and use of safe-and-sane fireworks in the past. But residents in and visitors to those areas would be well advised to check with their fire departments to make sure the drought hasn’t changed what is and isn’t allowed and where.
On the North Coast, personal fireworks are prohibited, Miller said.
“We cannot tolerate any fireworks activity at all,” he said. “If we hear of anybody lighting fireworks, we’ll be out putting an end to it and making sure they’re arrested. There’ll be absolutely no leeway whatsoever in these drought and fire-danger conditions we have now.”
That’s the Cal Fire mindset, too, according to county Cal Fire Chief Robert Lewin. “We’ll be doing strong enforcement this year, ready to cite people who are using fireworks in any of the areas we protect. … Cal Fire is bringing in extra peace officers for the weekend.”
“This is not the year to be playing with fire,” Lewin stressed.
Fines for illegal fireworks possession or use can be up to $2,000, he said, noting that even so-called safe-and-sane fireworks are illegal in most areas of the county.
“People are encouraged to go to the public displays,” Lewin said, but they’ll have to plan ahead even more than usual, given the traffic congestion expected at the only two professional fireworks shows planned.
Fireworks in both Pismo Beach and Cayucos are scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. on July 4, according to their respective chamber of commerce websites.