East Bay officials on high alert for fireworks danger ahead of 4th of July weekend

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Friday, July 2, 2021
East Bay officials on high alert for July 4th fireworks danger
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Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday several Bay Area police departments are confiscating hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, several Bay Area police departments are confiscating hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks. Oakland firefighters are upstaffing and gearing up to respond to potential fires sparked by illegal fireworks.

"The fireworks make me nervous and I can't tell people what to do but I prefer if they use some common sense and courtesy and not put other at risk," said Carl Rose.

Carl Rose is an Oakland resident who experienced the 1991 Oakland Hills fire. He looked out his window and saw the hills on fire. Product of a small grass fire and dry conditions destroying close to 3,500 homes.

RELATED: Unfavorable conditions raising fears of fireworks igniting fires in Bay Area before July 4th

"That was terrifying to see the whole hillside burning down and it didn't take much and it was going through house," said Rose.

The dry conditions and wind plus potential sparks by illegal fireworks are keeping firefighters on high alert this weekend.

"The fire danger is very high right now," said Oakland fire assistant Chief of Fire Robert Lipp and added, "The fuel moisture being very low along with high temperatures and the drought all combine to make this a very high concern for us."

RELATED: Here's how fast a safe and sane firework can spark a fire

In Contra Costa County, the fire department plans to have 50 extra personnel and eight additional engines standing by on July 4.

On July 4, the intersection towards Grizzly Peak will close for 24 hours for the general public.

20 additional Oakland firefighters will be deployed throughout the city ready to respond to potential fires.

"Oakland fire department will be in all of the hill areas along with areas in the 580 corridor, highway 13 corridor and lake Merritt as well as International Boulevard," said Lipp.

All this pointing to a bigger issue, Illegal fireworks are a growing problem in the Bay Area.

Ahead of the weekend, Hayward and Oakland police officers confiscated 900 pounds of illegal fireworks combined.

RELATED: Walnut Creek man arrested after explosion, found with $2,500 worth of fireworks, police say

In Richmond, Mayor Butt is offering a reward of $2,500 to whoever tips off the city on who is shooting off illegal fireworks.

"Fireworks used to start about the first of July and the fourth. Now they are year round and they get bigger," said Richmond Mayor, Tom Butt.

To get the $2,500, you have to start off with a complaint to Richmond Police.

"If that results in an arrest and a conviction or somebody paying a fine then you get the reward," explained Mayor Butt.

Mayor Butt hopes money will incentivize people to come forward and prevent potential fires.