Multiple Southern California fireworks shows have been canceled following a state investigation into the company hired to provide the pyrotechnics.
The cities of Lancaster, Palmdale, La Puente and Lynwood were among those forced to cancel or revise their shows after the California State Fire Marshal raided the warehouse of Exposhows Inc. in Kern County this week on suspicion of illegal activity, officials said.
“This company had fraudulently contracted with nearly a dozen cities across the state to perform Fourth of July shows … and now unfortunately those cities are left trying to find other fireworks companies,” chief Mike Richwine of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said during a news conference Thursday.
Richwine said the company was unlicensed and in possession of fireworks that had counterfeit State Fire Marshal seals, as well as homemade explosives.
“We believe they violated at least 15 carious fireworks and explosives laws and regulations,” Richwine said.
The contractor’s permit was canceled, according to a statement from the city of La Puente, which said it was replacing its fireworks display with a “patriotic laser light show.”
“It is unfortunate after two years of COVID and no fireworks show, we are not able to move forward with a fireworks show this year,” La Puente City Council member David Argudo told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
The city of Lynwood also announced that it was hosting a laser light show in lieu of its annual fireworks display.
“The laser light show is a new component as our fireworks vendor of several years recently lost its license to produce shows — therefore, no official fireworks show this year,” the city said in a news release.
The cities of Lancaster and Palmdale, which host their annual display together, said they were scrambling to find a last-minute replacement, but on Friday announced that they were left with “no other choice but to cancel.”
“Although a physical event will not take place, we know that our incredible community will still be celebrating together in spirit,” Lancaster officials said on Twitter.
David MacCormick, a spokesman for Exposhows, said via email that the company is a “small family owned business that has been providing safe entertainment to communities in California for decades.”
He said that the display fireworks in their possession were all legally purchased and that the company was proud of its track record of safe shows.
“To Exposhows, this appears to be an overreaction by the State Fire Marshal office, and so far no charges have been filed or disclosed to Exposhows to comment upon,” MacCormick said. “It is a shame that the [State Fire Marshal] has abruptly decided to seize the fireworks just prior to being released from Exposhows’ facility to the display sites, wrongfully depriving those affected communities of experiencing another safe and entertaining Fourth of July Celebration to express their spirit of community and patriotism.”
Areas outside Southern California were also affected by the raid. The city of Madera said it, too, was canceling its show after officials were unable to secure an alternative vendor.
“We know that you will be as bummed to hear this news as we are to share it with you,” city officials wrote in a statement, “but rest assured … the show will be back. And it will be bigger and better than ever before.”