Nine fires started by fireworks in Gilroy July 4

Police issue 94 citations on holiday

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BUSY HOLIDAY NIGHT Gilroy firefighters respond to a blaze at the corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Sunrise Drive July 4 that was thought to have been caused by a bottle rocket. Photo: Chris Bloyer

Gilroy firefighters responded to nine fires caused by illegal fireworks on July 4, while police cited nearly 100 people for the use or possession of unauthorized pyrotechnic devices in recent days, according to authorities.

Of the nine fires reported in the city limits on July 4, two resulted in damages to structures, according to Gilroy Fire Division Chief Jim Wyatt.

A garage at a home off Miller Avenue received extensive damages from a fire and water from the fire department’s effort to extinguish the blaze, Wyatt said.

Another of the July 4 fires resulted in the loss of an outbuilding at the corner of Santa Teresa Boulevard and Sunrise Drive, Wyatt said. That fire also burned about two acres of vegetation in a nearby field. 

“We had to assume (that fire) was from an errant bottle rocket,” Wyatt said.

Other fires in Gilroy on July 4 were smaller grass fires that did not result in major property damages. Wyatt said all nine fires were caused by the use of illegal fireworks.

On July 5, crews responded to a brush fire behind Gilroy High School that likely also was caused by illegal fireworks, Wyatt added.

Unauthorized fireworks kept Gilroy Police busy throughout the holiday as well. On July 4, officers responded to 335 calls for service, and 110 of those were for illegal fireworks, reads a press release from the Gilroy Police Department. Citizens used the Nail ‘Em smartphone application to report 92 incidents of illegal fireworks in the city limits.

The police department also received 17 reports of illegal fireworks by email.

Furthermore, on July 4, officers issued six criminal citations for alleged fireworks violations, plus 75 administrative citations for fireworks violations, according to police. In the three days leading up to the Independence Day holiday, Gilroy Police wrote 13 administrative citations for fireworks.

The police department deployed 12 additional officers dedicated solely to enforcing fireworks violations the night of July 4. The officers’ time was funded by mitigation fees that are added to legal fireworks sales in Gilroy. Most of the officers patrolled in unmarked vehicles.

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