SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Just a month before the Fourth of July holiday, authorities say they seized 50,000 thousands of pounds of fireworks from homes in Northern California.
It came in as an anonymous tip and turned into one of the largest illegal fireworks busts in state history.
Cal Fire pictures show federal, state, and local law enforcement, carrying out mortars, missiles, and tons of pyrotechnics. Fire investigators compared the stockpiles to five containers full of fireworks that, if stacked on top of each other, would reach the top of the state capitol.
That’s also where fire investigators, announced the arrests of seven suspects accused of stockpiling and selling the explosives across the state.
“They shoot into the air something of which you’d see at a public display,” said one Cal Fire official.
But those professional firework displays follow strict safety standards. Firefighters say illegal neighborhood fireworks shows are both destructive and deadly.
“Communities are becoming like war zones around the fourth of the July,” said California Fire Marshall Dennis Mathisen.
Authorities also say the explosives came from states where they’re legal, such as Montana and Nevada. And it’s sparking a new border debate over illegal fireworks.
“When it comes over our borders, it has to stop,” said state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Los Angeles).
Stern wants California to invest millions of dollars a year into a possible new task force.
“Get more law enforcement officers on the ground, and an ability to track so it doesn’t come in illegally and come back into our black market,” he said.
The message is if you want to celebrate the Fourth of July with a bang, dit with legal fireworks. The state approved safe and sane fireworks stands, won’t start popping up until June 28 and go to July 4.