SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Fourth of July was the busiest night of the year for the City of Sacramento's Fireworks Mitigation Task Force.
According to Officer Karl Chan, the task force has confiscated about 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks from June 28 to July 3.
"It's a huge problem for the community," Chan said. "Obviously, there's the fire danger, but it really scares a lot of people. It messes with their homes, animals get scared, and they lose their animals."
Chan says that last year the task force seized more than 2,333 pounds of illegal fireworks and made 3 felony arrests.
"A lot of people just don't realize the danger of these fireworks," Chan added. "We get lulled into kind of a false sense of security with fireworks just because we've been around them most of our lives as kids, but they really are explosives."
ABC10 also rode along with Sacramento County Sheriff's detectives Mike Baroni and Jon Eubanks as they patrolled for illegal fireworks.
They responded to a call in the parking lot of Cameron Ranch Elementary School and found illegal fireworks that had been set off.
"These are aerial mortars,” Eubanks said, pointing to a box with 30 rounds. “You light one fuse and these mortars will go into the sky and explode.”
One his concerns about this type of firework is the debris.
“Some of these items that come down out of the sky - see how they're burned and charred a little bit?” he said, holding up a blackened piece of debris. “A lot of times these aren't completely extinguished. [Which is] Potential for fire danger.”
He also found several illegal firecrackers that hadn’t yet been lit.
“When we got here, everybody that we saw was 50 or 60 feet away,” Eubanks said. “Sitting on the curb there were 15 people or so there, and nobody rushed out to say, 'It was me that lit those off.'"
Baroni said he and Eubanks stopped to talk with eight or 10 groups of people on Wednesday night.
“Some were lighting off Safe and Sane [legal fireworks],” Baroni said. “Others were believed to be lighting off illegal fireworks, but we couldn't prove it."
Unless law enforcement can catch people in the act setting off the fireworks, Eubanks said, they can't make an arrest since it's a misdemeanor crime. However, people that get cited might face hundreds of dollars in fines.