PITTSBURG (KCBS RADIO) – Contra Costa County investigators on Tuesday announced that a Pittsburg grass fire that burned over 120 acres last week was caused by fireworks.
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In the hopes of preventing future blazes, county officials held a press conference at the site of the fire to issue a warning about the dangers of using pyrotechnics.
Last year, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors adopted a new ordinance which made the possession, manufacturing, sale, or use of fireworks illegal.
The fire on June 17 forced over 2000 residents to evacuate and threatened 100 homes. Chris Bauchman, assistant chief for the Contra Costa Fire Protection District, said the blaze could have been avoided.
"With the amount of dry vegetation we are currently experiencing from the drought over the winter months, it's proven we’ve seen time and time again this year that the fires are quickly getting very large rapidly and out of control," he said.
"Fireworks are illegal in contra costa county and behind us clearly demonstrates the danger that can pose to you, your neighbors, friends, family, this community, if they're used."
Pittsburg Police Department Lt. Phil Galer said, depending on intent, the penalties for violating the fireworks ordinance range anywhere from fines to jail time.
"It is a sliding scale within that wobbler, misdemeanor, felony component and intent, specific intent, general intent and then negligibility," he explained.
For his part, Bauckman said that, despite the recent fire, he is optimistic the new law is working.
"So the fireworks use is a little lower than it was last year at this time," he said. "We’re hoping it’s a combination of the ordinances that have been adopted, the enforcement that we did last year, the undercover bus that we were doing last year."
"But we are taking it seriously and we are looking for those illegal sale of fireworks throughout the county and our jurisdiction and continue to work with our law enforcement partners with that."