Task force tries to stop illegal fireworks

July 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A task force in Santa Cruz County made a major bust on Tuesday by confiscating more than 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks. The task force was out on patrol looking for more.

The Santa Cruz County Fireworks Task Force was going door to door in Aptos on Tuesday night. It was part of their overall goal of stopping all types of fireworks from coming into the county.

"Make sure you don't over party okay?" said Division Chief Jim Dias with the Aptos/ La Selva Fire Department.
"Okay, I'm going have seven people here, sparklers will do it," said a resident.
"Sparklers will get you in big trouble," said Chief Dias.

The county isn't taking any chances and for the first time, the fine for having even sparklers is $1,000.

"We've had three major fires in this county in the last month, conditions are ripe for another fire. These cliff sides are green, they look green, but don't let it fool you, they're dry," said Chief Dias.

The beaches are also a problem as thousands gather there to watch illegal, amateur fireworks displays. That's why teams are checking for hidden stashes.

Earlier on Tuesday, the task force hit pay dirt in Aptos. An anonymous tip led them to more than 1,500 pounds of fireworks, at the home of local construction company owner, Willis Bailey. They found M80s, cherry bombs, and pyrotechnic devices.

"With the amount he had down there, if something went off it would've just blown all of us up!" said JoEllen Petery, a neighbor.

While Bailey's neighbors are angry by what was in his back yard, Chief Dias uses it as fuel for his cause.

"We nailed somebody last night with 1,500 pounds of fireworks," said Dias. "We're not messing around, we've had too many fires and people getting hurt."

As for Bailey, he faces possession of explosive devices charges and he is out on bail.


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