By Leigh Martinez

MODESTO (CBS13) — Firefighters believe illegal fireworks started a fire that destroyed a Modesto home.

Firefighters wrote 13 citations for illegal fireworks on July 4, but a Modesto city councilman says the fines aren’t enough.

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The homeowner was vacationing in the mountains when his house caught fire. A neighbor says he tried to put it out before fire crews arrived, but the quick spread of the fire from the garage to the main house meant there was little he could do to stop it.

Mike Minson stayed home on the holiday because his dog, Ginger, is terrified of fireworks. After the fire, he says he now has good reason to be.

“I looked over at 10:30 p.m. and saw an orange flame shoot up. So I wasn’t sure where it was so I drove around,” he said.

When he saw the fire on his neighbor’s roof, he called 911 and ran to help.

“We grabbed a hose and water down as much as we could and I was banging on the neighbor’s door to make sure he was OK,” he said.

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Minson’s hose and Modesto firefighters couldn’t stop the fire from engulfing the entire house. Firefighters suspect an illegal firework landed on the garage.

“You know the old shaker roofs, this is what can happen. They’re wood. They’re going to go up pretty darn quick,” said Damon Martin, the homeowner’s son.

Alan Ernst with the Modesto Fire Department says they had three teams going after illegal fireworks, but says they were overwhelmed with the hundreds going off that night.

“We just don’t have the resources and the amount of volume there was, there was no way we could have stopped the amount of illegal fireworks that were going off,” he said.

Modesto City Councilman Bill Zoslocki says he was driving around town himself trying to catch people setting off illegal fireworks. He says the $1,000 fine isn’t deterring people.

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“As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to kick up the penalties. I’m talking about some jail time. I’ll be asking our city attorney about what more can we do,” he said.