Just days ahead of the Fourth of July, more than 15,000 pounds of illegal fireworks were seized at an inspection site near the Nevada border, according to officials.
The interdiction operation at the California Interstate 80 Agricultural Inspection Station in Truckee resulted in 31 arrests for felony possession and transportation of illegal fireworks, and 58 citations for misdemeanor possession, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and Placer County Fire Department said in a joint news release.
The seizure operation comes as fire season in California is ramping up, with the Sand Fire burning over 2,000 acres in Yolo County last month.
“The devastating effects of wildfires caused from dangerous and illegal fireworks cannot be underestimated,” said Anna Tyner, deputy district attorney for Nevada County.
In addition to starting fires, illegal fireworks can also seriously injure people, according to Cal Fire Prevention Bureau Chief Mike Rufenacht.
Nearly 180 people are sent to emergency hospital rooms every day around the Fourth of July due to fireworks-related incidents, according to data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The majority of those injuries are caused by fireworks that are illegal in California.
There’s no systematic way to catch all the illegal fireworks coming into California, according to Cal Fire spokeswoman Mary Eldridge.
“We’re just happy that we were able to capture as many as we could,” she said in a phone interview Monday.
Cal Fire conducted the operation with help from: the California Department of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Forest Service, Truckee Police Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Sierra County Sheriff Office and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.