Costa Mesa residents will have two additional days to legally light fireworks this Fourth of July holiday weekend, and fireworks sales will start a day earlier than usual.

A May City Council decision allows fireworks to go on sale Thursday and lets residents light fireworks from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Previously, they could only be set off only on the Fourth of July, said Dan Joyce, the city's public affairs manager.

The time extension decision was based on supporting high school football and cheer programs and other community nonprofits. Such groups sell the fireworks to fund their programs.

Although some residents were concerned about more fires and cleanup, Councilman Steve Mensinger said in May that this year will be a "test year."

"This is just a change in an ordinance and city code for this year," Joyce said. "It'll be reviewed after the event to see what the impact was on the community and with city resources."

Residents are still encouraged to use fireworks safely, and fireworks are not allowed in city parks. Only fireworks designated as "safe and sane" are allowed. People younger than 18 are not allowed to set off fireworks, and anyone caught possessing illegal fireworks or using legal fireworks in an unsafe way may be fined up to $500.

Joyce said the city also plans to use its new system, AlertCM, to send out information about having a safe holiday weekend. The voluntary program lets residents sign up to get text messages or e-mails during emergency situations.

Joyce added that the Huntington Beach Police Department, under a new contract with the city of Costa Mesa, would provide Costa Mesa with helicopter coverage during the holiday weekend. The aircraft would patrol the skies to check for unsafe fireworks activity and to assist local police with calls, Joyce said.

 

— Staff writer Joseph Serna contributed to this report.