Visalia police and fire make large illegal fireworks bust in days leading up to July 4th

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The fireworks were plainly advertised on sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Letgo, so a fire investigator posed as a buyer. (KFSN)

More than 1,200 pounds of illegal fireworks were on display in Visalia Friday morning.

They're worth thousands of dollars on the street, but they're off the street now thanks to the Visalia Police and Fire departments.

The fireworks were plainly advertised on sites like Craigslist, OfferUp, and Letgo, so a fire investigator posed as a buyer.

"(They were) asking them how much they had, what their prices were," said Visalia Fire Marshal Kurtis Brown. "Once they built a rapport, he scheduled some buys with one of them. One of them did lead to a second one, and then from there it kind of kept moving down the line."

Investigators met with several of these sellers and seized the products. They say one Visalia man had the largest supply-accounting for more than half of what was confiscated.

What was in his car alone was enough for a felony, but Brown says the man agreed to cooperate with authorities, allowing them to seize more illegal fireworks he had stashed in his home. He still received a $1,000 fine.

"We also were able to get a lot of the people that purchased from him," Brown said. "He gave us a lot of names and numbers of people that purchased from him, which also lead us to other avenues of getting some more off the street."

Investigators waived the steep fine for the buyers who agreed to turn over the fireworks they illegally purchased. Above all, officials say their job is to prevent fires and protect people and property.

"(Illegal fireworks) shoot into the sky, they explode, many of them are firecrackers, other explosives, (and can) cause a lot of hand injuries," Brown said. "Last year in the city of Visalia, we had six fires; four of them structure fires that were caused by illegal fireworks."

Safe and sane fireworks booths are on just about every major street in Visalia. Officials say their work isn't over. They'll be patrolling the streets for illegal fireworks through the 4th of July.

Related Topics:
newsfireworkstulare countyVisalia
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