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Reports of illegal fireworks on the rise in San Diego

Posted at 5:09 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 20:56:55-04

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (KGTV) - The sound of illegal fireworks in the San Diego area is not uncommon around the Fourth of July, but there is an increase in activity this year. San Diego Police Department Sergeant Matthew Botkin said from May 21 to June 21, 2019, the SDPD received 37 calls regarding illegal firework reports. During that same time period in 2020, there were 236 calls.

Related: Fireworks continue boom in New York as residents wonder why the noise

“I was sleeping, it was like 12 midnight, 1 a.m. and I heard explosions kinda close to my window,” said Stina Pezze, a Mission Beach resident.

Jamie Young, a Pacific Beach resident, also has heard them at night, saying she’s lived in the area for 16 years and is used to the typical occasional illegal fireworks around the summer holiday, but this year has been much worse and started earlier.

“They started easily a couple weeks ago and it would just be random weeknights we’d get woken up by them at 2 in the morning,” said Young.

Neighbors are chiming in online asking where they’re coming from and why there seem to be more. Sergeant Botkin said the simple answer is that they don’t know.

"I'm not quite sure why the increase, I don’t have a reason why that’s the case but there’s certainly an uptick in them and we hope they go down," he said, also pointing out the difficulty in issuing citations. “We’re always more attentive this time of year to calls like this but you can imagine it’s really kinda difficult to nail down where these are coming from unless it’s coming out of your backyard."

He noted that neighbors play a key role in reporting people using fireworks because citing specific locations makes police response easier. He also mentioned how dangerous fireworks can be, with 180 people across the country going to the hospital every day for firework-related injuries around this time of year. He said 30% of those people have injuries to the face or eyes.

Related: Poway holding two fireworks shows on July 4

Many of the legal firework shows are either canceled or delayed this year due to COVID-19, including the San Diego Big Bay Boom and the Chula Vista show. Poway will be hosting two firework shows on the Fourth of July.

Related: Chula Vista cancels July 4 plans, reminds residents that fireworks are illegal

Related: San Diego's Big Bay Boom Fourth of July fireworks show canceled