Despite Warnings, Crackdowns, Illegal Fireworks Abound

Fireworks lit up the sky across the Bay Area on Tuesday night in celebration of Independence Day. And they weren't just the legal public displays.

Not by a long shot.

Despite several warnings ahead of the Fourth of July, as well as reports of law enforcement cracking down on illegal fireworks in just about every city and county across the region, airborne fireworks could be seen and heard throughout residential neighborhoods.

Aerial views of Oakland and San Jose neighborhoods showed dozens of fireworks blooms above homes, parks and industrial buildings.   

In San Jose, right around 8 p.m., the shells started exploding. That's when the San Jose Fire Department's Station Two in Alum Rock headed out.

At first, it was a simple patrol. But soon, the crew was heading to emergencies and smoke.

"July Fourth for us is definitely our busiest night of the year," Capt. Don Torres said.

San Jose added eight more firefighters during the day, on duty until 11 p.m., responding to fireworks and medical calls.

"Just having a presence so the neighborhood knows we're out there so they're safer," Torres said.

Last year, and again Tuesday night, firefighters had trouble driving down streets in an emergency because "there's such an abundance of fireworks that our crews are having difficulty getting to the actual event," Torres said.

Two fire inspectors were out patrolling with San Jose police with the intention of citing fireworks offenders on the spot.

Details on citations and fines were not yet available.

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