Illegal Fireworks May Have Sparked Dozens of Fires in Contra Costa County

Fire crews contained a brush fire that burned west of Martinez on Friday afternoon. It burned to 24 acres and came dangerously close to both Highway 4 and a home, according to the Contra Costa Fire Protection District.

The fire was first reported at 12:10 p.m. in a hilly area near 2700 Franklin Canyon Road and was clearly visible from State Highway 4, said CCFPD spokesman Steve Hill.

Crews called in air tankers and helicopters to help knock down the blaze.

At 1:27 p.m., CCFPD announced via Twitter that the fire, possibly sparked by fireworks, was contained and that homes were no longer threatened.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire.

The fire in Martinez was only one of at least 38 fires that burned in Contra Costa County in the past 24 hours — most of which happened between 6 p.m. and midnight, according to fire officials. Thirty-seven of those were likely sparked by illegal fireworks.

At one point firefighters were responding to 11 fires at the same time.

"We know that it was something hot [that caused the fires]," said Steve Hill of the Contra Costa County Fire Department. "To us that means the possibility — the likely possibility — of fireworks."

Nobody was seriously hurt and no widespread damage was caused by any of the fires that occurred in the past 24 hours.

Pittsburg resident Sybul Greer, whose home was just steps away from a fire that blazed through a field, thought that the constant popping of illegal fireworks through the night sounded like gunfire.

"It was just loud popping, popping, popping, and it just went on for a couple of hours," she said.

Greer is thankful that firefighters were able to stop the blaze before it reached her block, but she worries that the illegal fireworks will continue to be launched throughout the Fourth of July weekend.

The warm and windy weather conditions will make it easy for a fire to spread.

"We’re gonna be on pins and needles throughout this weekend because we just don’t know," Greer said. 

According Hill, firefighters are ready for that possibility as well.

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