San Diego

Illegal Fireworks Plague Residents in Otay Mesa on Fourth of July Weekend

About 19,000 fires are caused by illegal fireworks across the nation every year

While San Diegans celebrate traditional Fourth of July festivities, some communities will unfortunately have to contend with the thunderous cracks and booms of illegal fireworks.

The use of personal fireworks is prohibited in San Diego and across Southern California.

Every year, this issues plagues residents in the neighborhood of Otay Mesa. Various annoyed families say illegal rockets have already been going off for days.

One resident of Otay Mesa, Maria Baca, told NBC 7 that fireworks caused one of the houses in her neighborhood to catch on fire last year.

“It’s not the first time. It happens a lot. The fire that went during Christmas last year, that was unexpected,” said Baca. “It was kids messing around with fireworks that aren’t supposed to be here. It was really close to houses and one got burnt.”

Alfredo Armental, who also lives in Otay Mesa, says it’s been a chaotic week in his neighborhood. His dog reacts to the fireworks by scratching the doors and causing damage in his house.

“On the Fourth of July, every celebration day, we hear fireworks going off, loud ones,” said Armental.

Many pets flee their houses and get lost because they are terrified by the celebratory fireworks. The San Diego County Animal Services even offered free microchips to pet owners this year, because so many lost dogs arrive at the shelters over the holiday weekend.

“Yesterday, there was a lot of commotion because there were fireworks going off unexpectedly, and the dogs were going crazy and cars were going off,” said Baca. “It happens a lot more than it should because it’s not allowed to be here.”

“Dogs aren’t supposed to be running around town because of fireworks that aren’t supposed to happen,” said Baca pointedly. “Maybe if you’re going to do fireworks, don’t do it somewhere it isn’t allowed because it can be very dangerous.”

Kelly Zombro, the deputy fire chief for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, reiterated that fireworks are illegal in southern California.

“First of all, fireworks in the City of San Diego, for sure, are illegal. It’s illegal to possess them. It’s illegal to buy them, sell them or utilize them. They are known to be unsafe, unstable,” said Zombro.

“Hundreds of people are injured, sometimes critically. Small children are fooled into thinking they’re very safe. Even something as simple as a sparkler can easily start a fire. It’s a temperature of about 1200 degrees. That alone can cause severe burns,” said Zombro.

Zombro recommends that San Diegans enjoy the professional fireworks shows and stay safe, rather than taking unnecessary risks.

“The most dangerous ones are the foreign-made or foreign-purchased ones,” warns Zombro. Some foreign fireworks are smuggled from across the border as well as China, he says.

Although fireworks are a key part of Fourth of July celebrations, the authorities warn it’s better to be safe than sorry. Here in San Diego, the possible fire hazards caused by fireworks is another relevant safety concern.

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