Watch CBS News

Neighbors Who Reported Illegal Fireworks Before Ontario Explosion Want Answers

ONTARIO (CBSLA) — The walls are blown out, the ceiling caved in and Arlene Fierro's belongings are covered in ash two weeks after a massive stockpile of illegal fireworks exploded in the home next to hers.

Arlene Fierro Ontario Home
Arlene Fierro stands inside of what's left of her Ontario home, destroyed two weeks ago after a stockpile of illegal fireworks exploded at the home next door. (CBSLA)

Fierro, who caught the explosion on camera, said she and her family have lived in the home for 15 years. In that time, Fierro said she called police to report illegal fireworks all the time.

"I called and said, 'My neighbors, next door, are doing illegal fireworks,'" she said. "But every time we called it was just, 'Oh, we don't really know where it came from.'"

But Ontario Police Department Chief Mike Lorenz said the department had only received some calls about illegal fireworks in the area, most of which were not specific to the home.

"I ensure you, law enforcement wants to enforce it," he said.

CBS Los Angeles then filed a public records request that found police had responded to 50 illegal fireworks calls within a one block radius of the home in the past year — about one call per week.

"That would ring an alarm, you know," Fierro said of the findings.

But Ontario PD said the neighborhood where the explosion happened was not the city's most active neighborhood, stating that other areas in the city received even more illegal fireworks calls on an annual basis.

The department also said it had cited more people for illegal fireworks in the last year and that, after the explosion that killed two, officers were taking another look at the calls in hopes of targeting enforcement efforts on reported fireworks hotspots.

"I don't think they're being lazy," Perla Hernandez, who lives in neighboring Chino, said. "I think it's just overwhelming."

She said her neighborhood has even more fireworks.

"Every night, I would say I hear them at least three to five times," she said.

She said she hopes people lighting the fireworks have learned a lesson from the tragedy.

As for Fierro, her home has to be torn down and rebuilt, a process that she said would take at least a year. To help cover the costs, a GoFundMe page has been set up.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.