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Police seize ton of illegal fireworks

Suspect selling fireworks out of his Powers Tract home

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Police seize ton of illegal fireworks

Cases of dangerous fireworks being stacked by Officer David Bright represent less than half the total inventory found in a Manteca neighborhood off of South Powers Avenue that police said could hav...

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED June 29, 2013 2:15 a.m.

A huge discovery of nearly 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks in a Manteca single family home led to the arrest of a 45-year-old man on felony charges that included child endangerment of his two young teens Friday morning.

Oscar Robledo was arrested at his residence in the 300 block of Lassen Avenue in the Powers Tract neighborhood sandwiched between Manteca High and Spreckels Park just after 10:30 a.m. Police served a search warrant after learning about the explosive cache from a tipster. 

The charge of possessing destructive devices trumped the child endangerment inclusion that came after police said they found boxes of the fireworks stacked next to the bed of his 14 year-old son. 

Police spokesman Lt. Tony Souza said long tables had been set up in the family room of the home with displays of the various fireworks laid out for customers in a store within the residence.  Souza said it was believed Robledo was in the business of selling the fireworks on the premises.  

The fireworks arsenal was comprised of various aerial mortars, firecrackers, multi-launchers and M-80s – all recognized as being illegal in California.  Detectives and one uniformed officer used a dolly and carried out the cases of the fireworks by hand to an enclosed trailer they had backed into the front yard of the home to be taken to an undisclosed location elsewhere in the county for storage and ultimate disposal. 

Manteca bomb squad expert and Detective Mike Keener said the city had been working with the state fire marshal in the investigation adding that the house could have been blown apart had it caught on fire.

“We may have stopped a few Manteca fires today,” Keener said.

Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters commended the police department in their investigation saying he appreciates their hard work that possibly prevented several fires over the July 4th week as well as potential property loss and personal injuries.

“Hopefully this will put people on notice about the dangers of illegal fireworks,” Waters said. He added that the launching of fireworks into the air and some that move on the ground can bring a $500 fine and are not allowed in Manteca.

It was several years ago when a home in Raymus Village,  adjacent to Highway 99,  was torched and had its swimming pool lining severely damaged by illegal fireworks setting fire to tall junipers on the property line – a rocket launched in the neighborhood had found its mark.  The burning junipers sent flames over 30 feet into the air and the heat blistered the rear of the middle class home of a retired couple.

Chief Waters noted that “safe and sane” fireworks remain legal within the city but urged parents and citizens to use caution in the process of celebrating the Independence Day holiday.

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