SAN JOSE (KPIX) — Police and fire departments across the Bay Area are warning residents they could face fines for lighting off fireworks this year as they continue to see an increase in complaints.
The Contra Costa County Fire Protection District reported a four-fold increase in fireworks-related calls this year.
Morgan Hill police said on Thursday that fines would triple between July 1 and July 7. The first violation is $300, the second $600 and a third violation runs to $1,500.
Frustration has mounted among residents across the Bay Area and beyond who have taken to social media and neighborhood forums about what appears to be an increase of illegal fireworks being set off this year.
“This year, they’ve been going off like crazy,” said Alviso resident Lissette Dominguez.
Alviso has traditionally seen fireworks displays in the streets as a coordinated neighborhood effort. In 2018, KPIX showed damage to a car by fireworks and piles of debris left behind after the Independence Day holiday.
“Fourth of July has always been a tradition that’s brought people from even out of the little town here,” said Arsenio Rodriguez who grew up in Alviso.
In San Jose, city leaders are again pushing a program created for residents to take a picture or video of a violator and report it online at sanjose.gov/fireworks
In 2018, despite about 1,100 online complaints, only four citations were handed out because of lack of information.
Only time will tell if law enforcement across the Bay Area will crack down even harder this year as more people are expected to stay home because of the pandemic, especially as legal fireworks shows are canceled.
A police source told KPIX that one theory for the increase in illegal fireworks shows is that the legal shows have been called off.
Both Dominguez and Rodriguez believe Alviso residents will continue their tradition of lighting off fireworks this year but they may tone it down because of COVID-19 concerns.
“The gatherings are probably going to be smaller,” said Dominguez.
“I still think people are going to show up,” Rodriguez said. “Just to walk the streets, just to see if anyone is lighting off fireworks.”