SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — The Santa Clara County Fire Department has reported a fourfold increase in grass fires. Some of that is being blamed on illegal fireworks.

In San Jose’s Santa Teresa neighborhood, the beauty of living near the woods and hills is offset by the danger from fires, especially around the 4th of July.

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“It’s just a seasonal phenomenon, but fireworks are just a huge concern,” said Jennifer Yearley, who lives near Santa Teresa County Park.

“This time of year around the 4th of July, we see an uptick in the use of illegal fireworks,” said Captain Mitch Matlow with the San Jose Fire Department.

Matlow said all fireworks are illegal in San Jose.

“They cause fires, they cause burns, they cause injuries,” he said.

But that isn’t stopping people from lighting them off.

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“We have fires every year here, and some of them are big,” Yearley said.

San Jose Fire says last year 15 fires were set off by illegal fireworks.

This year San Jose and Santa Clara County Fire are asking people to join in the fight and turn in their neighbors.

“If they can safely gather a photo or video of the illegal activity,
we’re asking them to submit that with an online report.

Reports can be submitted to www.sanjoseca.gov/fireworks.

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The fire department says citizen reports will be investigated by the fire marshal. People found to be using illegal fireworks could be fined $500 for a first offense and $700 for a second offense within 18 months.