Illegal fireworks becoming persistent issue in East Bay cities

ByMatt Boone via KGO logo
Friday, January 1, 2021
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As the sun set for the last time in 2020, it didn't take long for the fireworks to start. East Bay officials say the issue has gotten worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RICHMOND, Calif. (KGO) -- As the sun set for the last time in 2020, it didn't take long for the fireworks to start.

"I don't get why people are so obsessed with fireworks," said Tom Butt, the Mayor of Richmond.

He says illegal fireworks have been almost a nightly occurrence this year.

RELATED: San Francisco New Year's Eve to be without fireworks, crowds

"I think it's related to COVID. They just keep going off. People complain bitterly about the fireworks. It wakes them up, their pets go crazy," he said.

It's also an enforcement issue. He says police are aware, but have little success trying to track people down.

"The biggest problem they have is by the time they get a complaint, it's all over," said Butt.

RELATED: San Francisco police to crack down on non-virtual NYE gatherings, conduct DUI patrols

While one would normally expect fireworks on New Year's Eve, Oakland City Councilmember Noel Gallo says, he's noticed an increase as well.

"For the last several years it's gotten really out of control," said Gallo.

He says responding to reports of illegal fireworks are not high priority calls for the Oakland Police Department.

"It's an issue of enforcement. In certain neighborhoods it is not as great as it should be," said Gallo.

WATCH: Here's a look back at San Francisco's New Year's Eve fireworks show from years past

There's also the issue of accidental injuries. With ICU beds in the region dangerously full already, Mayor Butts says more fireworks means more injuries.

"I don't think a 4th of July or New Years goes by where someone doesn't get seriously injured," he said.