Posted: 10:15 p.m. Friday, July 5, 2013

Illegal fireworks light up Bay Area sky, sparks fires Fourth of July

Oakland fire
Oakland fire and Wires

OAKLAND, Calif. —

Bay Area firefighters were busy on the Fourth of July battlingĀ  several fires sparked by illegal fireworks.

An Oakland battalion chief at fire station 17 said illegal fireworks may have caused three grass fires and one house fire.

It was quiet and peaceful Friday night in an East Oakland neighborhood, just blocks from Highland Hospital -- a far cry what the skies above Oakland looked like Thursday night.

A YouTube video showed commercial-grade fireworks shooting up in the sky.

"It was horrible," said Rissy James, of Oakland. "It felt like a bomb was coming through my window."

Another resident said the fireworks started at 9 p.m. and went on for hours.

"The house was going from side to side," said Oakland resident Nina Wax.

Nina wax says she suffers from breast cancer and that she couldn't rest because of the noise.

She says she made two calls to the special hotline set up by the city for people to report illegal fireworks.

"My biggest concern was the big rockets that make this sort of whining noise, that they would land on the roof," she said.

Neighbors said their calls to the hotline were answered by a dispatcher, but no one came to help.

The city acknowledges it received more than 200 complaints about illegal fireworks.

Police said they were busy responding to violent crimes.

The city issued a written response: "Police responded to multiple assault shootings, one of which was fatal, and a protest march in downtown Oakland."

Firefighters put out one fire at Joaquin Miller Park.

A battalion chief with the department 21 years described what it was like responding to problems all over the city.

"It was one of the worst Fourths I can remember as far as illegal fireworks in the city of Oakland," said battalion chief Lisa Barker.

Police said illegal fireworks are not an arrestable offense.

They said citywide, just one person was cited for illegal fireworks.

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