Frustrated and scared: Fresno residents call for change as illegal fireworks explode nightly

Local News

FRESNO, California. (KSEE) – Frustrated and scared– that’s how some Fresno residents are describing the impact of illegal fireworks exploding over neighborhoods every night.

If you live in Fresno, you know the issue of illegal fireworks being fired off in the city is nothing new.

This year though, some feel the fireworks are getting worse, and it’s prompting the city, the fire department, and the police department to take action.

It was a Monday night when a barrage of fireworks ricocheted through a neighborhood near Belmont and Blackstone avenues, sparking a small grass fire.

“I can only imagine if that hadn’t been put out that fire, it would have taken out a home,” said a homeowner who lives in the area.

The homeowner wants to remain anonymous, but she shared a second view of the incident from her doorbell camera.

“It’s kind of like your worst fear, right? A firework being set off in your front yard, exploding all over the driveways lighting things on fire,” said Shelly Spencer, a Fresno resident.

Spencer says she hears the constant stream of fireworks being shot off around the city too, and she’s not alone.

The loud bangs of the fireworks are enough to scare pets, veterans, and children.

For the first time, Shelly says she’s considering staying home this fourth, to watch over her house.

“I have 3 girls, the youngest is five, and of course they are concerned about it. They are saying, ‘is that gunshots, or is it fireworks?'” explained Spencer.

She started a neighborhood group to not only track the fireworks, but share the challenges of reporting illegal fireworks.

Last week, she took the concerns to the Fresno City Council.

More than 1,000 have signed an online petition calling on the city to ban all fireworks, except on designated holidays.

“We tried to ban them 4, 5 years ago and the pushback was just so great,” said Fresno City Council President Luis Chavez.  

Chavez had his own scare during the 4th of July last year when a palm tree caught on fire near his home.

With the drought, he fears this year could be worse and is looking into the city’s options

“If I have to call a special meeting, I will do that. Because we know the potential there for loss of life and loss of property is very high right now,” said Chavez.

Councilmember Mike Karbassi has posed another suggestion to combat the issue of illegal fireworks throughout Fresno.

“The only option I think we really have is to go after some of these illegal firework sellers and really throw the book at them,” Karbassi said.

Fresno Police Chief Paco Balderrama says a new task force with the Fresno Fire Department is on the ground.

“If it launches into the air and explodes, its illegal,” said Balderrama.

The task force has responded to more than 200 fireworks complaints since launching last weekend.

“What we are doing is getting out there, confiscating fireworks, issuing citations which are very very expensive, and we are also educating the public about what not to do,” explained Balderrama.

Illegal fireworks fines can cost up to $1,250.

Right now, if you want to report fireworks in your neighborhood, you can call the Fresno Police Department’s non-emergency line at (559) 621-7000.

You can also call the city’s 3-1-1 hotline or report fireworks on the Fres-Go app so they can follow up with you.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

CBS47 On Your Side

Do you have a problem that you need help solving? Contact CBS47 and let us be On Your Side.

Phone: 559-761-0383
Email: OnYourSide@cbsfresno.com