East Bay

Illegal Fireworks Spark Blazes in Brentwood, East Bay: Fire Chief

A fire that likely broke out Sunday night because of illegal fireworks caused Contra Costa County firefighters to race around the East Bay stamping out flames, and prompted authorities to remind the public that all pyrotechnics are banned countywide.

"We've had numerous fires," East Contra Costa Fire Protection District Chief Hugh Henderson said, noting at least four in one evening.

A blaze that took out three to four acres of grass near Tomalles Bay Drive in Pittsburg caused damage to a couple backyard fences, but fire crews were able to smother the flames before it spread to the homes, Contra Costa Batallion Chief Peter Marshall said. 

"With all the firework activity we've been having, we're suspecting that it's likely due to fireworks," Marshall said.

One of the largest fires erupted in Brentwood about 10 p.m., Henderson said, which was reported on Hanson Lane near Homecoming Way and spread to a roofing company, where pallets of asphalt burst into flames. That fire started, he said, after people saw fireworks being shot off in the Marsh Creek area.

He also noted fires in Antioch, Discovery Bay and Oakley - the last fire was made even tougher to fire because all the resources had been diverted to the other blazes, he said. In addition, there was at least one other fire in Concord, just outside Henderson's district, also on Sunday night.

"Our district is 249 square miles," Henderson said. "And it gets really busy with people doing crazy things with fireworks."

"We don't have enough resources" to fight all the fires, he added. 

Fireworks related fines could range from $500 to $5,000 in Contra Costa County. In the South Bay, San Jose City Council in April also decided to increase fireworks-related fines, and allow city administrators and code enforcers to issue the tickets, just like police.

There are legal, sanctioned professional fireworks shows in Contra Costa County. Cities holding the free shows stem from Pittsburg to Antioch. The full list is here.

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