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Illegal fireworks draw social host citation from Manteca Fire
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Illegal fireworks apparently aren’t just for the Fourth of July.
According to Manteca Fire Marshal Lantz Rey, last week the city issued a citation for somebody who was using illegal aerial fireworks through the city’s enhanced “social host” ordinance that allows first responders to issue citations to homeowners where illegal fireworks are observed.
The citation carries a $750 fine plus saddles the violator with what costs the city incurs issuing the citation and processing it through an administrative hearing.
While such instances in the middle of October are rare, Rey said that the upcoming New Year’s holiday is historically when bottle rockets and mortars find their way outside, and noted that the enhanced ability to go after violators has made it easier to punish those who are observed breaking the law.
And even though the weather is turning and the hot dry summer is behind us, local fire officials are still working behind the scenes to get a jump on next year’s illegal fireworks season.
In Lathrop, which based its own social host ordinance after what Manteca implemented to target what had become a growing concern amongst residents, discussions are currently being had between public safety officials to boost the enforcement next year when Fourth of July approaches – possibly even through a joint operation between the Lathrop-Manteca Fire District and Lathrop Police Services.
According to Lathrop Fire Chief Gene Neely, discussions have been held between himself and Lathrop Police Chief James Hood about having police officers and fireworks working together in areas that are traditionally hotbeds of illegal fireworks activity to literally wait for somebody to break the law so that they issue a citation.
The additional enforcement tools have been beneficial in going after the property owners where the illegal activity is taking place, Neely said, but chasing reports or going after activity observed from several blocks away has proved to be an inefficient way of enforcing the new ordinance.
Last year Neely tried to respond to a house not far from where he lives while off-duty to try and shut down mortars and bottle rockets that were flying directly over residences, and was caught off guard when a young man lit a firework and threw it at his vehicle.
At the end of the day, Neely said, it comes down to enforcing a law and enhancing public safety, and while formal discussions about strategy at the council level is still a ways off – Neely said that he and Hood will first be working with the City of Lathrop to come up with a proposal that would allocate the necessary resources to be effective – it’s something that will be brought up in the coming months.
“it’s definitely something that we’ll be bringing to the council,” said Neely – who has spent the majority of the summer away from the district as a wildland Incident Commander battling forest fires throughout the North State. “Ultimately, we have to come up with a strategy that works, and we’re hoping that some of the ideas we’re talking about will address the ongoing issues.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.