Madera police wrote 46 citations to residents for firing off illegal fireworks during the July 4th weekend, a significant increase over years past.
A citation could cost violators up to $1,000 for a first offense.
Lt. Dan Foss, who has directed the increased fireworks enforcement efforts the last few years acknowledged the challenge and the improvement.
“We had 147 calls just about fireworks. It’s obviously a terrible issue and we are never going to be able to get rid of it completely. But we are getting good progress. Calls were down (from previous years.) And we basically had 19 additional officers — and every available officer on it. The trend is down, if not even getting a little better. This is the highest number of tickets we’ve written, just for fireworks, ever. Two hundred pounds of illegal fireworks were seized. Education and enforcement is our approach,” Foss said.
The public is getting the message and helping by giving good information about locations when they call, he said, and are being understanding and cooperative with helping reduce the problem.
In past years the illegal fireworks, brought in on trucks from Nevada, had been characterized by residents as out of control. The illegal fireworks produce aerial bursts 100 feet in the air, rivaling commercial displays, and are extremely dangerous due to the fire hazard they create.
“This is our most active night for patrol and for calls for service,” said Foss. “We treat this very seriously and are giving it our full effort to combat this. Every cop and every car available we had was out there working on it.”
Only a few calls were received about possible celebratory gunfire this year, Foss said, and no arrests were made on that dangerous issue.
However, a 26-year-old pregnant woman standing in her driveway about 9:20 p.m. with her family, lighting safe and sane fireworks, in the 500 block of south B Street, was struck in the stomach by a small-caliber, stray bullet believed from the trajectory, to have been fired into the air from some distance away. No one nearby or at the scene reported even hearing the gunshot. The woman sustained minor injuries and was taken to Community Regional Medical Center. Her unborn baby was reportedly not injured, and the mother is expected to make a full recovery.
Five arrests for DUI were made over the holiday weekend period, with two of those resulting from minor crashes.
Anyone with information on illegal fireworks is asked to contact Madera Police dispatch at 675-4220.