CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- Contra Costa County fire crews responded to multiple fires on the Fourth of July as people celebrated the holiday by setting off illegal fireworks throughout the area.
Fire officials say crews worked more than 50 fires in the 9 p.m. hour some of which were sparked by fireworks.
One of those was a vegetation fire that firefighters were able to quickly contain as it burned near classrooms at Delta View Elementary in Pittsburg. Firefighters say it was started by illegal fireworks.
"I know it's a holiday, but they need to be careful because this is our school, this is our neighborhood. So we went them to be careful," says Selam Haile, who lives near the school.
Contra Costa County fire officials say they ramped up fire crews and are working with multiple agencies in anticipation of a very busy Fourth of July.
VIDEO: Illegal fireworks across Bay Area on July 4th
"We will respond to probably 20 to 30 or more fire just here in the east portion of our county tonight. Our resources are stretched thin. And it's not even dark and we have responded to three fireworks caused fires," explained Lon Goesch, Assistant Fire Chief with the Fire Chief Contra Costa County Fire Protection District.
One is the weather. It's been a dry spring season and hot summer day. He says winds are expected to pick up throughout the night.
Another is that this year the Fourth of July falls on a Saturday, so people can stay out late. He adds, with so many people stuck at home because of COVID-19, and no public fireworks, it has all lead to an increase in people using illegal fireworks.
"Typically for us, the Highway 4 corridor through Pittsburg and Antioch is typically busier for us and our fire district," say Chief Broscahrd, adding, "With the noticeable uptick in fireworks usage, unfortunately, it feels like it's in every city and every community we serve."
Watch the full conference in the media player below: