News Details

Illegal firework calls in Orange County up nearly 300 percent from last year

As Independence Day nears, Sheriff’s Department officials are expressing concern about the steep increase in illegal firework calls and what that could mean for community safety.

Calls regarding illegal fireworks are up nearly 300 percent across Orange County compared to last year, according to data collected by law enforcement agencies representing 28 cities and the county’s unincorporated areas.

Crime analysts from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and municipal law enforcement agencies pulled data to compare March 2019 through June 2019 to the same time period for 2020.  

“Some cities saw more than five times the calls they did last year,” said Sgt. Tim Pusztai, supervisor of the OCSD Hazardous Devices Section (HDS). “We understand this year’s holiday looks different for families with many municipal displays being canceled, but residents should not attempt to recreate firework shows in their own neighborhoods. It is dangerous for you and your neighbors.”

The danger of illegal fireworks was highlighted at about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday night in the 23000 block of Coso when several trees near a Mission Viejo apartment complex were set ablaze after a group of juveniles were seen lighting fireworks in the area.

Although there were no injuries and the quick response of Orange County Fire Authority firefighters stopped the fire before it spread to nearby residences, incidents such as these are what have first responders concerned.

“Every year, we see severe injuries and property damage in Orange County because of illegal fireworks,” said Pusztai, whose unit has confiscated more than 5,800 pounds of banned pyrotechnics in Orange County just in June. “With the sharp increase in call volume, the probability of a tragic incident occurring also goes up.

“We want families to celebrate safely, which means leaving aerial fireworks to the professionals and using Safe & Sane fireworks, if your city allows them, the correct way.”

FIREWORK SAFETY TIPS:

  • Ensure Safe & Sane fireworks are allowed in your city. Never alter or modify Safe & Sane fireworks.
  • Never relight a firework or pick-up a firework that has not fully ignited.
  • Always have a bucket of water nearby.
  • After lighting a firework, quickly back away.
  • Never allow children to light or play with fireworks, including sparklers.
  • To report illegal firework activity, call the non-emergency line at 714-647-7000 or 949-770-6011. Select a language, then press 9 then 1 for dispatch. Please do not call 9-1-1 for firework activity, unless to a report an emergency such as a fire or injury that needs immediate medical attention.