The Lathrop Manteca Fire District and Lathrop Police Services teamed up last week to take more than 400 pounds of illegal fireworks off the streets in advance of Fourth of July weekend.
It made little difference in preventing the busy and action-packed Saturday night that they faced running from call to call trying to keep the community safe.
And for almost two dozen people it was a costly night after they were nabbed by teams of firefighters and police that were out in force to try and stop the use of dangerous and illegal fireworks and devices.
A total of 19 citations were issued on Saturday night for the use of illegal fireworks — an increase from last year when local authorities began a coordinated effort to stamp out the use of illegal fireworks to protect lives and property after several fires in recent years was traced back to their use.
The fines for the civil citations — which in Lathrop’s city limits will be prosecuted by the City Attorney — can be as high as $1,000 each.
According to Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann, the night was about what first responders expected given the fact that most people have been cooped up indoors and there wasn’t anywhere for them to go celebrate.
“It was a busy night and you always kind of expect that and bring personnel and you’re going from call-to-call,” Biedermann said. “We anticipated things be a little bit easier with no planned events with families out enjoying that, and we saw that the fireworks booths were completely selling out of their products which is kind of unheard of.
“In general, there were lots of fireworks — people didn’t have anywhere to go and there were more house parties this year.”
At least one person was arrested for driving under the influence in Lathrop on Saturday, and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office boating safety unit issued six boating-under-the-influence citations on the San Joaquin River Delta.
In addition to one injury in River Islands, San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputies also responded to a call in Stockton that initially came in as a gunshot wound but was later determined to be caused by an exploding mortar firework that detonated against somebody’s stomach.
The Sheriff’s Office, which includes Lathrop Police Services, responded to more than 770 calls for Saturday with at least 200 of those calls being for illegal fireworks — describing in a statement the “unrelenting display of mortar-style fireworks across the entire county” that officers and emergency personnel had to contend with.