Devastating fires, drought conditions prompt concern in South Bay over illegal fireworks

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Fireworks are certainly part of the July 4th holiday tradition, but some South Bay neighbors say illegal use has brought more fear of fire than fun.

ABC7 News caught up with Santa Clara County Fire Captain Bill Murphy, who said even with last year's decent rain, fuel conditions all around the Bay Area never fully recovered from California's drought.

RELATED: Sonoma County residents divided over 'safe and sane' fireworks

Breaking apart a handful of dry grass, Captain Murphy explained, "The smallest ignition source can light this stuff on fire."

As July 4th approaches, bone dry conditions and a simple spark and create a serious problem.

Besides the threat of a widespread fire, Captain Murphy wants people to consider the possibility of injuries and much more.

"The homes," he said. "People usually use fireworks in their neighborhoods. The conditions are not set up for people to use fireworks."

It's that reality and message San Jose resident Suzanne Morrone has tried to get through to her neighbors every Fourth of July.

"So far, it never fails," she described. "It's been a war zone."

Morrone leads the Facebook group, "Stop Illegal Fireworks in San Jose." With close to 350 supporters, the group has been promoting the City of San Jose's improved online reporting tool.

The tool is meant to catch those setting off illegal sparklers.

The City of San Jose is asking it's residents to snap, click and report.

"It's not our jobs to police," she said. "But at this point, we don't know how else to approach it."

So far this year, the city says those living in San Jose have paid fines up to $5,500 for the use of illegal fireworks.

Earlier this week in Oakland, one person was arrested in a fireworks bust worth $30,000.

At the start of the month, Cal Fire reported roughly 49,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were seized from at least three locations in the East Bay and others throughout the state in preparation for July 4th.

While the fines and consequences are clearly adding up, it's what money can't buy that has neighbors like Morrone fed up.

"Your sense of security is completely taken away when this is happening," she said.

LIST: Bay Area Fourth of July Fireworks and Events 2018

There are some professional firework display options for those in the South Bay including the following:

San Jose Giants 2018 Baseball Season

Where: 588 E. Alma Ave, San Jose CA 95112

Time - Post Game

Rotary Club of San José

Where: Discovery Meadow, 180 Woz Way, San Jose, CA (West San Carlos, Almaden Blvd, 87 off ramp, Woz Way & Delmas Avenue)

Time - Show starts at approximately 9:30PM

Almaden Lake Park - Council District 10

Where: Winfield from Coleman to Quarry Rd

Time - Show starts at dusk

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