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Booms, Blasts, Whistles Fill Night Sky In San Jose Despite Crackdown On Illegal Fireworks

SAN JOSE (KPIX) -- Illegal fireworks shows started even before the sun went down in San Jose this Fourth of July, and lasted well into the night.

In neighborhoods all across the city, and even grocery store parking lots, the booms, the blasts
and the whistles of illegal fireworks filled the air and just kept coming.

"Some really made your body tremble as they exploded over you," said City Councilmember Sergio Jimenez.

Councilman Jimenez lives in South San Jose and says it's hard to see what impact the council's recent actions to combat illegal fireworks have had, such as increased fines and holding property owners liable for what their guests do.

"It's difficult to tell, given that I just have a snapshot from my district, but I can tell you it
seemed to be more than before. Fundamentally, we are trying to change people's behavior and that's always a difficult thing to do."

The San Jose Police Department reported that from June 1 to July 5, there was a dramatic drop in people reporting illegal fireworks at just over a thousand calls for service, a 49% drop. The department says it issued 10 citations and seized 550 pounds of illegal fireworks.

The Fire Department said despite all the fireworks activity, there were no major structure fires and only a few grass fires that were quickly put out. But it was called a stressful night for understaffed firefighters and dispatchers.

"It becomes overwhelming. Typically, we'll run 250 calls for service a day. What I have heard is we had well over 300 last night," said Matt Tuttle, head of the San Jose Firefighters Union.

What many residents were asking is why so many people are lighting off illegal fireworks, out in the open, with no apparent fear of the consequences.

"No one's really stopping it, said Victor Gomez, who lives on Communications Hill. "People are still doing it. I didn't see any law enforcement trying to stop people from doing fireworks."

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