SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Weeks before Independence Day, illegal fireworks can be seen lighting up Sacramento's night sky.
Surveillance video from a Sacramento County neighborhood last month shows illegal fireworks showering drought stricken lawns with embers and scorching the grass.
Fortunately, it was extinguished before it could spread to homes in the area. But with California's hot and dry summer taking hold, the Sacramento Fire Department is preparing for its busiest night of the year.
"Every year we go on multiple grassfires, one after another where we just can’t keep up with the amount of calls that are going on," said Dave Lauchner, Battalion Chief with the Sacramento Fire Department.
Last year, the Sacramento City Fire Call Center received 1,500 reports of illegal fire activity.
In one case, an Oak Park mattress manufacturer suffered major property loss. In another, a 33-year-old North Highlands father died in a fire his family suspected was sparked by illegal fireworks.
Fire prevention personnel with the Sacramento Fire Department will be enforcing the city's illegal fireworks ordinance in the weeks leading up to Independence Day. The county recently passed a similar ordinance, with violators facing fines of $1,000 to $2,500.
"Any firework that goes up in the air is not a legal firework, so we want to make sure that when people celebrate, they do it in a safe fashion," Lauchner said.