Fire officials say illegal July 4th fireworks spark more than 100 fires in Bay Area

Bay Area firefighters faced a grueling 24 hours on the Fourth of July this year, with more than one hundred fire calls caused by illegal fireworks during the holiday weekend, according to officials in multiple jurisdictions. 

Cal-Fire officials say their resources were also stretched thin as they responded to two large vegetation fires that threatened structures near Gilroy and Morgan Hill. 

Officials are still determining the cause of the CrewsFire that broke out Sunday and quickly grew to 1,000 acres by 6:30p.m., burning towards Highway 152 prompting evacuations on Canada road. 

Near Morgan Hill, the Park Fire broke out about 11 p.m. Saturday and by Sunday evening was 50% contained according to Cal-Fire Deputy Chief Mike Marcucci. 

The Park Fire has burned 343 acres so far and forced the evacuation of 80 people, with another 20 people sheltering in place. 

"Probably the busiest 4th of July I've seen and I started in 1990," said Marcucci, "We had 16 fire engines and I don't think there was an engine that slept the night." 

Deputy Chief Marcucci says their plans for increasing Fourth of July staffing made all the difference. No lives or property were lost in the Park Fire. The cause is still under investigation.

Many fire departments across the Bay Area say those illegal fireworks were responsible for the majority of the Fourth of July fires. 

"Just a significant amount of illegal fireworks activity. Almost to the point where the noise is continuous," said Contra Costa County Fire Captain George Laing.

Contra Costa County fire officials said they had 67 calls between 7 p.m. and midnight Saturday.

One fire in Pittsburg threatened 20 homes and Contra Costa fire crews were stretched so thin, they could only send one engine per incident. Some of the calls were for fireworks injuries. 

"We had three significant injuries including a mother and daughter hit by a firework. We had somebody lose a hand from a firework," said Laing.

Illegal fireworks in Oakland lit up the sky and left a mess on the ground in some areas. 

Along Lakeshore Avenue near Lake Merritt Sunday, neighbors swept up the debris with mixed feelings.

"I was watching for 7-8 hours and didn't see any reason to be concerned," said Rachel England of Oakland, who was cleaning the street. 

"Anywhere you shoot off fireworks, there's a possibility of a fire hazard most definitely. So there's a concern," said another Oakland resident who identified himself by the name Shinobe.

In San Francisco, one resident recorded video of large professional-grade fireworks being set off.  Fire crews in the city were running from call to call.

"We extinguished 110 fires. 108 of those fires were the direct result of fireworks," said San Francisco Fire Department Lieutenant Jonathan Baxter, "We had a one-year-old child and a five-year-old child who were hit by a bottle rocket." 

A fire near Heron Park burned about six acres.

In McLaren Park, Lt. Baxter says 15 mile-per-hour gusts pushed flames dangerously close to neighborhood homes. 

Fire officials are urging people to avoid shooting off more fireworks and exercise caution as the Bay Area enters the summer fire season. 

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter @JanaKTVU or Facebook @NewsJana