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Police ignite a campaign against illegal fireworks

Madera Police Department

Roughly 500 pounds of illegal fireworks confiscated by Madera Police sit in storage, awaiting safe disposal. The fireworks were found locally during uncover sting operations by police to sell and buy the illegal fireworks, and on several online websites.


The Madera Police Department has recently announced a new “You Lite it, We Write It” zero tolerance campaign for those who buy, sell or shoot illegal fireworks.

Police are requesting anyone with information on the possession, sale or use of illegal fireworks call Madera police dispatch at 675-4220.

“If you are found in possession of or using illegal fireworks — the kind that leave the ground — you will be facing a fine of up to $1,000 and potentially a year in jail, for the first offense,” said Police Sgt. and public information officer Mark Trukki.

Many residents have complained and characterized the weeks last year around the 4th of July as a “war zone” and out of control, claiming it frightens people and animals. They say the noise and the very real risk of fire ruins the national holiday for them.

Trukki said Madera Police officers have already made arrests and seized more than 500 pounds of illegal fireworks through undercover operations buying on Craig’s List and other websites. “We are also posing as sellers of fireworks on those sites and citing the residents who attempt to buy them. So buyers should beware, you could be buying from an undercover officer. It’s not worth it,” Trukki said.

A family on east Pecan Avenue lost its home this week to a fire started by a neighbor several houses away who was lighting off illegal fireworks. Trukki said the blazing fireworks came down on the roof of the family’s garage.

The neighbor who set the fireworks off, Juan Sandoval, 47, was arrested and jailed.

“Extra officers will be out in force from the 29th of June until after the 4th, in marked and unmarked police vehicles, and with the help of residents calling in addresses we should be able to target the addresses violating the law. We received 120 calls last year, and have an idea from last year where the violations are coming from but we still need to work together with residents to fix this (attitude) and situation.”

Trukii also said the dangerous custom of firing guns into the air on the 4th of July and New Year’s Eve was also being targeted by undercover police.

“These are very serious situations and won’t be tolerated. You fire a gun into the air and you will be arrested on the spot, and booked into jail on charges of reckless discharge of a firearm. It’s no joke — those bullets come down somewhere,” he said.

The many 911 calls that come into dispatch from people complaining about the fireworks also flood the emergency system and take police officers away from what could be more serious crimes in progress.

Trukki said the approved legal fireworks are widely available and safe if used appropriately.

“Be safe and have fun. (But) respect your neighborhood or it’s going to cost you in the end.”

“If you are currently in possession of illegal fireworks you can turn them in now for disposal, no charges, no questions asked to the Madera Police Department.” Trukki said.


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