The skies above Stockton lit up Tuesday night, not just with legal fireworks, but the illegal ones and lots of them.
"We got to a point where every engine company in Stockton was either on a grass fire or medical," Fire Chief Erik Newman said. "It was kind of hard to go after every single one."
The Stockton Police Department's fireworks task force started cracking down on illegal fireworks a week before July Fourth.
So far, they have made several arrests, confiscating over 1,000 pounds of illegal pyrotechnics.
"I think overall it was definitely a success. This is the first time that we really stepped it up. Next year, it's going to get better and better," Chief Newman said.
ABC10 followed Stockton Fire crews around Tuesday night as they responded to numerous grass fires, tree fires, fence fires and even fireworks stands catching fire.
One unlucky homeowner's roof caught fire after a suspected firework landed.
He was too upset to talk about it.
As firefighters were on scene, aerial fireworks continued to shoot off right behind the homeowner's house.
Fire Chief Newman said this is the first year the city can also cite the homeowner for illegal fireworks on their property, as well as the person who sets them off.
On social media, some have criticized the police department for focusing too much on illegal fireworks and not on other crimes.
"Until you are affected by that meaning your roof caught on fire or you have to go to work the next morning and your neighbor is shooting off M-80's next door and you can't sleep, those are people calling in and want the help," Officer Joe Silva with the Stockton Police Department said.
The task force has one more night out on the streets tonight before they can tally the number of arrests.
Those arrested for illegal fireworks face a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or $50,000 in fines in San Joaquin County.
Fireworks in the air one after another, raining down, exploding over Stockton neighborhoods.
Overwhelmed fire crews raced from one call to the next last night as thousands celebrated the July 4th holiday.
One unlucky homeowner became the victim of a roof fire.
Aerial fireworks continued behind his home, even as fire crews mopped up the scene.
Stockton firefighters were extraordinarily busy.
Dozens of calls came in for illegal fireworks, grass fires, fence fires and even fireworks stands on fire.
In all, 303 emergency calls in 3 hours time.
That is double the number of calls on an average night.
There were five structure fires.
But fire crews limited the damage.
At one point, Stockton Fire says it did not have enough available engines to respond with a "full assignment" to a structure fire.
“We got to a point where every engine company was either on a grass fire or medical," said Stockton Fire Chief Erik Newman.
Newman called the crack down a success, saying the ability this year to cite the property owner, not just the person setting off illegal fireworks, helped.
“And the enforcement team doing a really good job early before the 4th making some major to minor busts of folks selling illegal fireworks maybe set the tone," Chief Newman said.
In fact, Stockton Police so far has netted over 1000 pounds of illegal fireworks, along with several arrests.
Stocktonians we spoke to praised the fireworks crack down.
“I think they should crack down. People are getting hurt every year and fires starting," said Joe Mariscal.
“When you have illegal fireworks things can happen. Children can hurt, adults can get hurt," said Deanne Slavik.
Still, Stockton Police has been criticized on social media for focusing too much on fireworks and not on other crimes.
"Until you are affected by that meaning your roof caught on fire or you have to go to work the next morning and your neighbor is shooting off M-80's next door and you can't sleep, those are people calling in and want the help," said Officer Joe Silva.
In nearby Lodi, a car suffered extensive damage after a firework blew up causing severe injuries to a man’s hand.
It's a visual reminder of how dangerous fireworks can be.
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