MISSION HILLS, Calif. (KABC) -- Hoping to cut down on the use of illegal pyrotechnics on the Fourth of July, the city of Los Angeles will hold a fireworks buyback program Saturday, providing gift cards for people who surrender fireworks at an event in Mission Hills.
"We understand the Fourth of July is an excellent time to enjoy and celebrate with families and friends, and we understand that historically fireworks are a big part of that. We get that,'' Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Erik Scott said during a news conference on Wednesday. "But we all see another side that the general public does not see, and that's the significant permanent injuries and the devastating wildfires.''
Los Angeles City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez will host the buyback event along with the police and fire departments from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Brand Park, located at 15121 Brand Blvd.
She said a similar event last year led to people surrendering a quarter-ton of fireworks ahead of the holiday.
"There were teachers that had confiscated these fireworks from their students, parents -- while the kids were at school -- went and brought these fireworks over to us,'' she said.
She noted that fireworks not only present a fire and safety danger, but the noise from the devices can be traumatic for animals, seniors and veterans.
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore reminded residents that possession and use of fireworks in the city is illegal -- even if they are purchased outside the city limits.
"I will ask Angelenos, don't put the police department, don't put these officers in the awkward position of having to mess up your holiday and your event because you decide to go out and buy $300 or $400 worth of fireworks and put on a display in front of your house,'' he said.
A year ago, police accidentally blew up a south L.A. neighborhood with illegal fireworks. A member of the department's bomb squad miscalculated the amount of explosives that had been confiscated.
Moore promised an incident like that won't happen again.
"We are making seizures across the city based on tips, and Saturday is a great day to turn them in," he said.
Scott noted that the severe drought means hillsides are ripe territory for wildfires, and fireworks can easily trigger a blaze.
"Our wildfire danger is ever prevalent and it's only exacerbated by the ongoing drought,'' Scott said. "Our hillsides are very susceptible to a spark, so one less spark is one less wildfire. We want you to join our team to ensure that.''
City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.