San Jose residents fired up, frustrated over illegal fireworks

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Residents in San Jose are fed up with illegal fireworks. With July 4th just a few days away, neighbors say illegal displays are once again bringing about more fear and frustration, than fun.

Neighbors told ABC7 News, the start of illegal firework season in San Jose is here. They hope the City of San Jose's online reporting tool, which is meant to track down hot spots, will put a stop to the illegal shows.

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While the Fourth of July is synonymous with booming firework displays, many residents said bright lights and loud crackles have them concerned.

Suzanne Morrone explained the threat of fire, and danger to pets and people doesn't seem to be enough to stop the illegal displays.

"We aren't going to convince the people that are already doing it, to stop," Morrone said. "Unless they're afraid of getting caught and fined."

She also runs the community Facebook group, "Stop Illegal Fireworks in San Jose."

She and others rely on an online tool, recently reactivated by the City of San Jose and its Fire Department. People are able to "Snap, click and report" illegal use through the online portal.

1. Snap: Safely take a photo of video of the person participating in illegal activity.

2. Click: Visit www.sanjoseca.gov/fireworks

3. Report: Complete the online form with accurate information regarding illegal firework activity. Include as much information as possible. The more information reported, the more likely action will be taken. Reporting parties can upload up to five separate photos or videos as evidence of illegal activity.

Reporting residents are asked to provide as much detail as possible to help track hot spots around the city.

"Nobody can do anything if they don't have addresses if they don't have a cross street," Morrone said.

She explained the biggest challenge is getting close enough to the action to capture adequate proof.

"It's ridiculous to ask citizens to take photographs when the police have said it's dangerous for them," she added.

Last year, there were more than 1,100 reports made through the online reporting tool between July 1 and July 8. In the end, four citations and 88 warnings were issued.

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Others suggest a completely different approach. They want the city to lead by example by turning to tech.

"There's some really cool fireworks that are done by drones," resident, Tina Morrill told ABC7 News.

It's a concept we saw last year during an Independence Day drone light show at Travis Air Force Base.

"If we want to celebrate the 4th of July, let's use technology," Morrill said. "Let's do that, which seems a lot less harmful than what we have been using traditionally."

If tech isn't in the future, residents say their only option is the online reporting tool.

There are three legal, professional firework shows in San Jose on the Fourth of July.

Festival & Fireworks Show 2019

Estimated Attendance: 25,000

Time: 2 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Location: Almaden Lake Park - Winfield from Coleman to Quarry Rd

Rotary Fireworks Show 2019

Estimated Attendance: 60,000

Time: 6 p.m. - 11 p.m.

Location: Discovery Meadow - West San Carlos, Almaden Blvd, 87 off-ramp, Woz Way & Delmas Avenue

San Jose Giants - Excite Ballpark

Date: July 4 and 5

Time: Post Game - game starts at 6:45 p.m.

Location: 588 E Alma Ave, San Jose

The San Jose Police Department said it is working collaboratively with the San Jose Fire Department to prevent injuries, protect property, and encourage residents to attend one of the three professional fireworks shows.

They remind residents, all fireworks in San Jose are illegal, including the safe and sane fireworks that can be purchased in other cities.

SJPD said all of their Special Operation's Unit officers and several off-duty patrol officers will be assigned to work at all three professional fireworks shows.

Additionally, on-duty patrol officers will be dedicated to handling calls for service as the department anticipates the volume of 911 calls will increase.

They said all fireworks-related calls will be prioritized with other calls for service.

"As time permits, the patrol officers will be driving through neighborhoods to be a visible deterrent for those using illegal fireworks," SJPD said in an e-mail to ABC7 News.

The City of San Jose also offers a 24-hour hotline, (408) 535-5600, to assist residents that do not have internet access and wish to report violators.
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