PACHECO (KCBS) – Two Pacheco men were arrested Wednesdau morning after authorities discovered hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks and dangerous explosives at their homes, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials said.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Richard Tapia, 45, and Jessie Aron Payn, 19, after serving search warrants and locating a combined 400 to 500 pounds of illegal fireworks and explosives, Contra Costa County fire Capt. Robert Marshall said.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of possessing illegal fireworks and explosives with the intent to sell them. Marshall said he does not know whether the two are acquainted.

The arrests came after fire investigators received a tip that the two men owned large amounts of illegal pyrotechnics, Marshall said.

“They’re just selling it to whoever and you could conceivably wind up with somebody who’s 7-10 years old lighting these things off,” said Marshall.

The stash included M-80’s and M-100’s, each equal to a quarter stick of dynamite.

Meanwhile, neighbors said they have heard fireworks and explosions for years late at night but never saw anything and didn’t know where they came from. Many said last 4th of July was the worst, with explosions loud enough to shake their houses.

Marshall said the arrests were intentionally timed to occur before the Fourth of July holiday, when the fire district typically sees hundreds of fireworks-related blazes.

“We’re getting into prime fire season here, and fireworks are one of the big causes of fires…as well as injuries,” he said.

Last year around this time, Marshall said, one resident of the district lost most of his hand after handling a dangerous explosive.

Owning, selling or discharging fireworks is illegal throughout the fire protection district, which encompasses much of the county including Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.

Fire district officials encourage anyone needing to dispose of fireworks to call their local police or fire department.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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