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Antioch House Fire, Woman's Shattered Life Highlight Human Toll of Illegal Fireworks

ANTIOCH (KPIX) -- Saturday night, someone setting off fireworks destroyed a house in Antioch, forcing a woman out onto the street and leaving a community wondering why so little is being done to stop the illegal, nightly pyrotechnics.

Talk about fireworks danger and some people think you're just trying to spoil the party but ask the people who've actually lost something and they'll tell you the party has gone too far. Robin Anderson lost a lot Saturday night. She came home to find her Antioch house on fire and two of her cats missing -- all because of someone playing with fireworks.

"It ruined my house ... everything I own, is out on my front lawn," she said. "For what? I don't even understand why they're doing it."

Officials said that, 30 minutes earlier and half a block away, fireworks started a blaze on I Street, destroying a fence and two cars. A battalion chief said that fire likely sent embers into the attic of Anderson's home.

"I want them to be held responsible," Anderson said as she sat outside her burning home. "I want somebody that did this to go to jail! ... We don't even know where we're going to go."

Residents say their complaints, like the nightly booms from illegal fireworks, have fallen on deaf ears with Antioch police.

"They were right in front of my house," said neighbor Isela Topete. "I was going to call the police and I see this police car drive by and he didn't even stop or anything. I said, well, what's the use?"

Gene Jackson and his sister Denise Tucker, operate a church in the neighborhood and said the traditional July 4 celebration is out of control.

"Something that is fun has now turned into something that could have been fatal for her," Jackson said. "She could have burned down in the house. So I think that is just evidence alone of how intense it has been happening around here."

"How do you justify what you did on the tenth, which it should have been done on the Fourth?" Tucker said. "I don't think the date makes a difference, it's just that you're supposed to do the tradition and be done."

Anderson returned to her home Sunday afternoon and said she was able to find her two missing cats alive but scared, huddling in the water-soaked house. She doesn't know where she's going to live but she said she's leaving Antioch and she had a message for law enforcement about the illegal fireworks.

"If they don't know where they're coming from, let us tell you where they're coming from," she said. "And then they could put a stop to this because this is just the first of many that's going to happen if they don't do something about it."

Antioch police said Sunday evening that no suspect has been identified.

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