Illegal firework shows lit up the skies of Southeast Fresno as Fresno Police Officer Tsuas Yang and Fresno Fire Investigator Chad Brisendine patrolled the streets, looking for the people who set them off.
Typically, emergency dispatchers are flooded with calls, reporting the illegal fireworks. But Yang and Brisendine's citations came entirely from what they saw as they drove and walked through neighborhoods.
While the fireworks are easily spotted at night, the investigators also cited people during the daylight hours. In some cases, legal fireworks were modified to create a larger explosion. The violation cost Ruben Cardenas $1,200. "That's a pretty costly lesson, but that's alright," said Cardenas.
This year, the size of the Valley's fireworks task force was a bit smaller because of budget cuts, along with the fact that the holiday falls on a Monday.
Despite all the illegal fireworks that could be seen over the skies, Fresno Deputy Fire Chief Michael Despain said prevention efforts do appear to be working. "The education is working. Because typically when you make contact with you is setting off the illegal fireworks, the issue is never, 'I didn't know it was $1,000 fine.' The question is, 'It wasn't me, it was someone else,'" said Despain.
That argument is a little harder to make when investigators caught some with the fireworks in their hand. "I knew it was illegal and I'm not going to lie. I took a chance. I'm willing to pay the fine," Robert Botello of Fresno said.
Crews from the city of Clovis and Fresno Cal Fire were also out Monday, trying to keep people safe. We won't know just how many citations were issued or how many fireworks were confiscated until Tuesday.