Task force up against rampant use of illegal fireworks

More than 30 calls to Sacramento Fire Department to extinguish fires; traumatized pets; sleep-deprived workers and more were the fallout from this year’s Independence Day celebration in Sacramento.

Social media buzzed as residents of many different neighborhoods reacted to the most flagrant use of illegal fireworks many had ever seen in the area.

“Anybody witnessing the explosions for the last 2hrs in the area of Cameron Ranch School. The fools are not just celebrating the Fourth, but are going crazy with aerial bombs and what sounds like dynamite sticks, This madness has to stop. Where are the patrols?” wrote Barry McGee of the Fallen Oaks neighborhood.

Fire officials had few answers for why it was so bad.

Fireworks that are illegal in Sacramento County are legal in other states and Mexico, and people buy them and bring them here for use, said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokesperson for Cal Fire.

“We try to do patrols and stop and catch people coming into California (with illegal fireworks), but it’s hard to get everybody,” she said.

None of the 30-plus blazes put out by Sacramento firefighters both in the city limits and in surrounding communities could be directly linked to fireworks, either legal or illegal, said department spokesman Chris Harvey – however, he said that on an average day, the department goes out to 2-3 fires, and calls always rise significantly on July 4.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department received 200 reports of illegal fireworks yesterday, about 20 percent of its normal total calls, said spokesman Tony Turnbull, adding that these calls detract from the department’s normal crime fighting mission, and there are only so many officers out on the streets.

"Running ‘from fireworks call to fireworks call is difficult,” he said. “That’s why there’s a task force in place.”

The city and county of Sacramento, Folsom Fire Department, Cal Fire and other local government along  with the 378 non-profit organizations that sell state-approved fireworks in the Sacramento area formed an illegal fireworks task force to combat the burgeoning problem.

 “Despite public demands for increased enforcement and years of collaborative efforts between TNT Fireworks and state and local fire and law enforcement agencies to increase public education and create administrative citations and task forces, the sale and use of illegal fireworks has reached epidemic proportions,” said Dennis C. Revell, spokesperson for TNT Fireworks.  Because little or nothing is being done to stop the interdiction of these illegal, dangerous items into California, local jurisdictions have become not only the ‘first line of defense’, but the ‘only line of defense’ against illegal fireworks!” 

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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