Fireworks leave their mark in Bay Area

Fire investigators in Atherton are looking into the possibility that fireworks caused a half-million dollars in damage. They do have a couple of leads but are not ready to commit to a cause. It's certainly a calmer day for people who live there. Last night was rough for them. First they heard fireworks and then fire trucks.

"We could see the fire in the back windows. I don't think it had gotten in, but the windows started cracking and popping and exploding," says resident Dan Pettit.

The windows are now gone and so is what was once a deck, after a fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. on Sunday morning.

"Something woke me up in my sleep and I looked down and saw a fire in the back," says Pettit.

Firefighters believe it started by illegal fireworks and regardless of the warnings, people are still shooting them off.

People have been doing it all over the Bay Area all weekend long.

Even professional grade pyrotechnical fireworks are blamed for a grass fire in San Francisco that gutted a home. In Oakland, mortar exploded and a person lost a hand. All told, police have confiscated boxes of illegal fireworks but enforcement is difficult.

"If it's a bottle rocket, those things are burned up because they are paper and wood. Sometimes the source of the ignition are never found because those types of things tend to disappear," says Harold Schapelhouman from the Menlo Park Fire Department.

But if fireworks are found to be cause and if the person is found, they or their parents are liable.

"That is something for the parents to think about as 'what are my kids doing? Where are they?'" says Schapelhouman.

No one is exempt. Even the fire chief admits to shooting off fireworks as a kid.

"We didn't really think too much about it. We were more just mesmerized with the cause and effect. I think it's really up to the parents to try and be vigilant over their kids, explain things to them and let them know what the negative can be," says Schapelhouman.

As for the fire in Atherton, the investigation continues to exactly what started the fire. If it wasn't illegal fireworks, it might have been a case of spontaneous combustion.

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