It’s that time of year when fireworks are cracking and popping all through the night, but they trigger something other than patriotism for hundreds, if not thousands of people living on the Central Coast.
“I’m worried, I’m scared, and then it stops, but then it happens again so then you just have that constant edge of nerve,” said Oceano resident Jennifer Harrington.
As fireworks light up the sky, the effects of these explosives are sometimes more harmful than they are fun.
“My fiance who is a war veteran, he was in Vietnam, and a flashback is very different from a memory. He is right back in the moment, so he is remembering these horrific, awful things just from a loud boom,” said Grover Beach resident Paige McDonald.
In Grover Beach, where McDonald and her fiance live, safe and sane fireworks are only allowed to be set off between noon on July 3 until midnight on July 5.
But it’s an ordinance that’s largely ignored and for those dealing with the symptoms of PTSD, the slightest bang can lead to a traumatic flashback.
“He hears a firework and then he thinks its a mortar so he hits the ground and he pulls me down with him to protect me,” McDonald said.
One Central Coast community says it’s had enough and is cracking down this year on those who ignore the fireworks ordinance.
“Starting this weekend, we’re gonna send out plainclothes officers as well as additional number of uniformed officers to specifically target fireworks violations. They’re gonna be everywhere,” said Santa Maria Police Lieutenant Russell Mengel.
The extra enforcement is already paying off as police officers arrested someone Wednesday night for an unrelated crime after responding to illegal fireworks being set off.
Other changes include having only one person being needed to file a complaint. Previously, two witnesses were required. Santa Maria residents can also now use the “Nailem” app to snap a photo and report illegal firework use with the touch of a button.
We reached out to the city manager in Grover Beach and he said the city has zero tolerance for illegal fireworks and encourages the community to call the police dispatch center but added the department is unable to add additional staffing for the holiday.