FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – A fireworks task force swept through Fresno Friday – ahead of the 4th of July holiday.

The task force was on the hunt for illegal fireworks. The operation started June 11 and has now taken more than 1,500 pounds of illegal product off the streets.

The Fresno Fire Department’s Jay Tracy says they are trying new tactics this year. He called the response unprecedented, saying the department has never launched patrols weeks ahead of the holiday weekend.

“I hope that people realize we’re doing the best we can,” said the fire department’s Shane Brown.

Brown says crews are utilizing a drone for the first time – searching for illegal fireworks from the sky.

“One of the thoughts was to use that drone as an added bit of technology to try to provide us with locations on aerial fireworks,” he said.

Task force members also hit the pavement as they cruised neighborhoods known to be hot spots for illegal aerials.

“We’re responding to actual 911 calls that the communication center for Fresno PD has received. They are basing those off of actually having a responsible party that has called and giving a location,” Tracy said.

Brown says they have also ramped up their undercover work alongside the police department. They have been looking for ads pretending to sell everyday objects, with the real merchandise in the background.

“The advertisement says control for sale message for details message for price and when you look in the background you’ll see all these illegal fireworks,” Brown said.

On July 4th, 2020, the department responded to 135 fires, pummeling their already high average of 20 daily.

Even fireworks deemed Safe and Sane are not allowed to be used after 10:00 p.m. except for July 4th when they can be used until midnight.

The task force plans to continue its enforcement throughout the holiday.