Task force seizes 1 ton of illegal fireworks in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto

Officials are cracking down on illegal fireworks in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto. A new task force has already seized thousands of pounds of explosives.

Officials have been hearing complaints that the fireworks are traumatizing children, pets, and people with PTSD. And then there's the fire danger.

Authorities say they couldn't afford another summer like the last one.

The joint Menlo Park/East Palo Alto Fireworks Task Force is only a month old and they say they're already making an impact.

"We've been very successful in getting ahead of the issue, even though it's just barely June. And we've actually seized 2,000 pounds of explosives," says Officer Eric Lopez of the East Palo Alto Police Department.

2,000 pounds of explosives were taken, as compared to 1,300 pounds in all of last year.

"What we can tell you is that we want to strike at the heart of this epidemic of fireworks to the best degree that we can," says Chief Dave Norris of Menlo Park Police.

Local officials knew they had to do something. Last summer alone, fireworks started three brush fires and a house fire.

"Just literally in the one year, we've seen the consequences of fireworks," says Jon Johnston, Menlo Park's Fire Marshall.

And it's happening all over from Oakland, to San Jose, to Antioch where just this week apartments caught fire.

Officials in East Palo Alto say a lot of residents are fed up.

"This isn't going to be solved by the fire department and police alone. It's really going to take the community members to be a part," says Lisa Gauthier, a city council member from East Palo Alto.

"You can't just pop up a camera and hope to get someone in the act. It has to be a cultural evolution as a community to really rethink being mindful of others," says Antonio Lopez, also an East Palo Alto City Council member.

This task force will rely on a combination of enforcement and education.

Resident Vickie Porter says it's about time.

"I think it's great because of the loudness. I'm not sure they're even fireworks. I'm not sure what they are. They sound like bombs," she says. "I would prefer if there were none. Not fewer but none."

On June 8th, Menlo Park officials are also set to discuss enhanced penalties relating to fireworks.