San Jose

San Jose Residents Gear Up For Illegal Fireworks Season

Official Bay Area fireworks shows will be booming across the region Thursday night. And the illegal ones already have started.

Police from Marin County to Contra Costa County to Santa Clara County have been getting reports of illegal fireworks for days.

In the South Bay, a neighborhood group is using a makeshift network of home security cameras to capture some of those explosions.

The official celebration in San Jose is a big show at Discovery Meadow in the downtown area, and it never fails to draw a large turnout.

But when it comes to reducing the number of illegal fireworks, many residents have been hearing the answer to that loud and clear every night.

A loud explosion boomed through the Roosevelt Park neighborhood near downtown San Jose one recnt night, well ahead of the holiday. But it's typical for the illegal fireworks season, neighbors say.

"It rocked the house," Jeff Levine said.

Levine and other members of the Neighborhood Association downtown set up their home security cameras to record the illegal activity in an ongoing campaign to get more enforcement.

"It affects wildlife and affects people, human beings, veterans with PTSD or just regular folks," Levine said. "That’s why my eyes are so blurry because it woke me up several times last night."

Law enforcement agencies say they plan to hit hot spots this week.

"We are going to have extra patrols, deputies that are kind of covering the areas that are known to have a lot of ... illegal fireworks," Santa Clara County sheriff's deputy Michael Low said.

Councilman Johnny Khamis talked about residents being vigilant in their reporting of illegal fireworks.

"There’s an app online where you can report it automatically," he said. "You can call 311, and we will get to as many as we possibly can. Of course, this is the time of year when we get tons of reports."

Levine not only is concerned about the noise but also the fire hazard.

"The fire season is year round, and one errant spark from any fireworks, even quote safe and sane fireworks, can set off a tree, set off a house, set off a brush fire," he said.

Though enforcement has been historically tough, if someone is cited for an illegal fireworks display in San Jose, the penalty is a $500 fine for a first violation. Getting caught selling illegal fireworks could mean a $50,000 fine and jail time.

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