By Drew Bollea

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Local law enforcement agencies are preparing for the busiest 48 hours of the year when it comes to fireworks, and they’re not being lenient towards those lighting or selling the illegal ones.

“[We’re] looking and watching and listening for illegal activity,” said Chris Vestal with the Sacramento Metro Fire Department’s Fireworks Task Force.

Vestal says they’ve increased patrols in the last week and have even more eyes on the road Monday and Tuesday.

“They’re going to be out in the neighborhoods,” said Vestal.

He says the multi-agency task force is acting on tips from the public or other police.

Their goal, to keep illegal fireworks off the streets.

“Aside from being illegal, they’re also not safe,” said Vestal, “and most fireworks injuries are due to illegal fireworks.”

Californian’s getting hurt is on the rise. According to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, there has been a steady increase in emergency room visits in the state since 2010. Nearly 400 people made the trip to the hospital last year.

“Those are really uncontrollable,” said Vestal talking about the illegal fireworks that shoot into the sky, “there is a compression and an explosion factor.”

Departments across the state are reaching out and cracking down on illegal operations.

In Stockton, a half a dozen people were arrested and hundreds of pounds of fireworks pulled from the streets during a sweep the last few days.

In Alameda county,  3,000 pounds taken from a warehouse. Authorities say the fireworks were being trafficked.

“The suspects that we often arrest in these investigations are often gang members,” said Chief Robert Luna with the Long Beach Police Department.

In Long Beach, $30,000 dollars of illegal fireworks were seized from a garage run by known gang members.

Despite the big busts throughout the state,  Sacramento has seen fewer law breakers. So far this year arrests are down compared to last year. Yet, they’ve still pulled about 1,000 pounds of illegal fireworks off the streets.

“We feel pretty good that we’ve been able to make an impact,” said Vestal.


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