By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN
Undercover investigators seized more than 300 pounds of illegal fireworks this week and are planning more raids leading up to the July 4 holiday.
Early Thursday evening investigators with the Kern County Fire Department and other agencies went to a residence in the 9000 block of Moose Creek Court in east Bakersfield. The investigation was ongoing and it was unclear how many arrests would be made, but packages of illegal fireworks were taken from the home.
"It burns houses down every year," Kern County Fire Chief Brian Marshall said about the use of illegal fireworks. "We've had people that are severely hurt."
Marshall said Wednesday that investigators received a tip of someone selling illegal fireworks from a vehicle parked at a gas station. The person was arrested on suspicion of felony possession and distribution of fireworks, and more than 300 pounds of fireworks were seized.
Neither the total weight nor the value of the fireworks taken in Thursday's raid was known as of early Thursday evening.
Marshall said using or distributing illegal fireworks can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the amount and power of the fireworks. The minimum penalty is a $1,500 citation.
Only "safe and sane" fireworks are legal and can only be set off during designated times throughout the county, including within Bakersfield city limits. Safe and sane means the fireworks have been approved by the California State Fire Marshal and have a seal on their packaging saying so.
Marshall said there are no second chances for those using illegal fireworks considering the risks involved.
"If we catch you using illegal fireworks, you will be cited," he said.