OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The sound of illegal fireworks has become a nightly soundtrack for many people across the San Francisco Bay Area, but authorities say complaints of heavy duty explosives have started earlier than usual this year.
Nightly firework use has become a regular occurrence on the streets of Oakland. They were set off right in the middle of Grand Ave. during a Juneteenth celebration.
Illicit firework shows also have become more frequent in San Jose, on the Peninsula and in San Francisco. It is a phenomenon that is being reported across the county on social media.
“We just came down to here to get some beers and some dinner and we just heard a pop, pop, pop, boom – thought they were gunshots,” said San Francisco resident Alex, who declined to give his last name.
The noise has not just startled people.
In San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, someone posted a sign asking whoever is setting off firecrackers at night to please stop.
“It’s freaking out all our dogs and they’re terrified of the loud noises,” the sign read.
For some, fireworks may be an outlet for boredom. For others, they’ve have become part of social justice rallies and protests, or an act of defiance toward the police.
“I think people are obviously outraged, and trying to express that so I think you do want you want and show that how you want,” said a woman identified as Joey in San Francisco.
Oakland Councilmember Noel Gallo says the problem is the worst he’s seen it in his lifetime. He grew up in East Oakland.
“Normally, we would celebrate Fourth of July and we would shoot the fireworks off for three, four days, but now it’s become a habit that every night, from 9 to 3 in the morning, you’ll hear the fireworks,” said Gallo. “But now people are shooting off their guns.”
He picked up shell casings while he was volunteering to clean up streets in Oakland this weekend.
“The reality is our police and firefighters are hands-off attitude right now, but we’re at the beginning of the fire season,” said Gallo.
The Alameda County Sheriff’s Office posted about an increase in the number of complaints about fireworks on Monday and suggested people call the department’s non-emergency number to report incidents.
FIREWORKS: We are receiving complaints about a higher than normal use of illegal fireworks. The repeated loud explosions are concerning for certain members of the community including pets and livestock. There is also danger of fire. Call our non emergency number 510 667-7721.
— Alameda County Sheriff (@ACSOSheriffs) June 22, 2020
The Oakland Police Department says it will have more roving patrols during the July 4th holiday.
Those who are caught with fireworks can be cited and or fined up to $10,000, and face imprisonment.