The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office announced Thursday that they have confiscated over 7,000 pounds of illegal fireworks this year in the county.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, legal fireworks in California are required to have the California State Fire Marshal seal and must be on the California State Fire Marshal approved list.
Fireworks are also only allowed to be possessed within a week of the Fourth of July.
Sheriff Patrick Withrow said at a news conference that 7,381.6 pounds of illegal fireworks were taken off the streets with the help of a task force who worked on the issue for six weeks.
He said two sergeants and eight deputies had been working undercover setting up purchases of illegal fireworks throughout the county. Some fireworks had come from out of state, Withrow said.
“Unfortunately, we have a lot of people come from out of county and the internet is a big part of this to sell illegal fireworks,” Withrow said.
The task force had specifically focused on explosive devices such as M-80s, M-100s and were able to seize 586 explosive devices.
M-100 fireworks are the equivalent of about a quarter stick of dynamite, according to Withrow.
District Attorney Ron Freitas, who was also present at the news conference, said his office will be prosecuting offenders and citations will be imposed.
During the operation, 13 arrests were made, three citations were given out and nine other cases were passed to the District Attorney’s Office.
Freitas said illegal fireworks carry real jail time with extreme circumstances resulting in time served in a state prison.
In total, $27,543 was taken away from illicit sales.
Community members were urged to celebrate the Fourth of July safely by buying fireworks from booths in the area.
“They are mostly run by local nonprofits, that benefits from you, that benefits your community,” Freitas said. “For them, this is one of their biggest fundraisers of the year.”
He said some tips for residents to remember when lighting their fireworks is to clear an area of 30 feet around where nothing can burn, for people to stay a safe distance to avoid anyone getting hurt, running a hose to use in case of an emergency and to keep a metal bucket nearby filled with water where fireworks are kept over 24 hours to make sure they don’t reignite.
All of the fireworks seized will be given to Cal Fire, which will burn and destroy them.