Contra Costa County officials are hoping a big penalty will help convince people to stop launching illegal fireworks.
An illegal firework show occurred in Discovery Bay as people got to watch last Fourth of July.
Though fireworks are illegal in Contra Costa County, resident Steve Tingley said some young men he didn’t know showed up to a backyard dock uninvited, then took their barge out into Lido Bay and fired them off.
“It was safe, but I had no responsibility of shooting the fireworks. It happened to be right here,” he said.
Tingley was blown away when he got fined $52,650.
“First of all, it wasn’t me,” he said. “I didn’t shoot the fireworks. I didn’t buy the fireworks. I didn’t own the dock the fireworks were on. I didn’t know the two people shooting the fireworks. I’m trying to figure out what did I do wrong? oh, I guess I what I did is they parked right down on my beach.”
East Contra Costa Fire Marshall Steve Aubert spoke about the violation. “In our district by our ordinance we have the ability to cite somebody per violation for the first offense at $130,” he said.
Aubert said shooting off fireworks of any kind is incredibly dangerous and property owners can now be held liable even if they didn’t personally set them off.
“I know everyone wants to have an outlet. But fireworks are not the way you want to go about that,” said Aubert.
The drought conditions have left everything so dry, Aubert said even the smallest spark can lead to disaster. Just two weeks ago a firework ignited a 15-acre grass fire in the Lakes neighborhood of Discovery Bay.
Neighbors say the fire got way too close for comfort “It could have taken my home and a couple of others as well,” said Discovery Bay resident Alisa Smith.
While last July’s display didn’t ignite any flames, fire officials say it put the area in danger Tingley insists he wasn’t behind it and had he known the consequences, he said he would have chased the men away.
“I think they want to make me a scapegoat a little bit they’re doing it right before the Fourth of July to talk about it,” he said. “$52,000 what would you have done? You wouldn’t have had them sitting here shooting fireworks if you knew somebody would come back at $52,000 for a fine.”
Tingley’s fine has been reduced to just over $26,000. He said that he’s fighting that fine.