49,000 pounds of illegal fireworks seized statewide, including in 3 Bay Area cities

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Roughly 49,000 pounds of illegal fireworks have been seized in the last two weeks from at least three locations in the East Bay and others throughout the state in preparation for July 4, Cal Fire officials announced Thursday at a news conference in Sacramento.

Cal Fire calls it one of the largest illegal fireworks busts in state history.

The seizures came as part of a months-long investigation that also led to the arrests of seven people allegedly affiliated with a large-scale illegal firework distribution network that's been operating for more than 30 years, according to Cal Fire.

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Search warrants were served in Oakland, Hayward and Walnut Creek, as well as Copperopolis, Modesto and Salida. They led to at least one hazardous materials situation when a bomb squad was called to the 700 block of 26th Street in Oakland on May 30 as part of the investigation.

The agency says that in an average year, fireworks start about 18,500 fires including 1,300 structure fires and 300 vehicle fires. They're also responsible for three deaths, 40 injuries and $43 million in property damage annually.

Cal Fire Chief Ken Pimlott said the state has zero tolerance for illegal fireworks.

"With the increase in large, devastating fires across the state, we cannot stand by and allow this type of activity to occur, threatening not only property and natural resources, but the lives of the citizens we protect," Pimlott said in a statement.
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