CONTRA COSTA COUNTY (KPIX 5) — With a dry summer looming, authorities in Contra Costa County said the crackdown on illegal fireworks is about to ramp up.
Firefighters told KPIX 5 that a combination of extreme drought conditions and what they saw last summer is what has them concerned. A year ago, firefighters responded to what they describe as an “unprecedented” number of fires related to illegal fireworks.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You Get Another Relief Payment?
Less than 2 weeks ago, an apartment complex in Antioch went up in flames, damaging or destroying eight units, and displacing some 40 residents, fire officials say, because of an illegal firework ignited nearby.
“These are serious fires, damaging property and threatening the entire community,” said Contra Costa County District Attorney Diana Becton.
Concord resident Scott Ramos told KPIX 5, “With the high fire danger everything is so tinder dry and especially in this area. Lyme Ridge nearby just burned up yesterday.”
With 85% of the state in extreme drought, there’s even more concern this year about illegal fireworks blasted into the sky, landing on tinder dry grass, trees, and homes nearby.
“Fireworks that are projectile, that leave the ground are the most dangerous because you don’t know where they’re going to go,” said Chief Lewis Broschard of the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.READ MORE: Bay Area, NorCal Heatwave May Break Records; 'Potentially Life-Threating' Central Valley Temps
Fire officials said illegal fireworks ignited more than 100 fires in June and July alone last year in Contra Costa County.
“It’s just an unacceptable number, and it creates an environment where we don’t have the resources to adequately handle all these fires,” said Broschard.
This year, homeowners will be held responsible for fireworks set off from their property after the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors passed a new ordinance, strengthening regulations.
“There are too many ways to get them. There’s too many people the know how to get them and the underground black market is just huge. It’s unstoppable,” said Ramos.
Under the new ordinance, the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office has the authority to issue citations to property owners.MORE NEWS: 2-Day Search For Mendocino Man Wanted In Shootout With Deputies, Multiple Burglaries Ends Without Arrest
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause 18,500 fires a year.