Fireworks blamed for East County brush fire

Posted at 10:36 PM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-05 02:25:32-04

RANCHO SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) – Fireworks are being blamed for a brush fire in the East County.

The fire broke out on a hillside on Hilton Head Road around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Vince De Palma’s home is right next to the hillside. He says the sound of bottle rockets woke him up.

He says he saw a group of teens running away from the scene when he began yelling at them, shortly after they got away.

“I grabbed the hose after they left,” De Palma said, “It’s a high pressured hose, and I was able to get water on the fire here and the sparks and embers that were landing.”

He says the fire was out by the time firefighters and sheriff’s deputies arrived.  Cal Fire confirmed the reports of fireworks in the area but said the case is still under investigation.

10News saw used fireworks on the hill. There was also a darkened and dug up area of brush.  Firefighters say the fire was contained to a 10-foot by 10-foot area.

“It looked much bigger at night, pitch dark,” De Palma said with a chuckle after seeing the area. But he said the damage could have been much worse if he didn’t attack it quickly. “I tried to protect our property, and if it got away, it would’ve gone straight up that hill.”

De Palma says it’s not strange for teens to be up on the hill. There are makeshift BMX tracks on the hill that teens often use to ride bikes. 

He says he has nothing against kids partying and being up on the hill, but the fire has him upset.

“If they wanted to light them off, why didn’t they just go to the cul-de-sac and do it,” De Palma said. “This is pure stupidity.” 

“I think an apology to the neighborhood would probably be the right thing to do,” he added.