Kern County and Bakersfield Firefighters stay busy during Fourth of July holiday

Crews respond to hundreds of calls

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Fourth of July was an extremely busy night for both Bakersfield and Kern County firefighters.

Crews responded to hundreds of phone calls, handed out citations and even made an arrest.

This Fourth of July holiday was the first time firefighters went into the community with a zero tolerance policy for anyone caught using illegal fireworks around Kern County.

Kern County fire crews alongside deputies with the Kern County Sheriff's Office spent Fourth of July working together to find people using illegal fireworks.

"This year compared to previous years, we looked about the same. We'll wait until the stats come out to see how the citations added up this year," said Cory Wilford, public information officer for the Kern County Fire Department.

Officials set up a ‘Fireworks Task Force Hotline’ which proved to be a success.

"Those call centers were maxed out both nights, between the two nights they took in just a little over 1,300 calls," he said.

Teams patrolling the community serviced 1100 of those calls within the metropolitan Bakersfield area.  Due to the high volume of people reporting illicit use of fireworks about 141 calls were not serviced by the task force.

Out on the street, investigators handed several citations.  Fee included $500 to violators altering ‘Safe and Sane’ fireworks and $1500 for illegal ones.  However there are other fines attached for setting off fireworks.

"You can be charged with criminal activities.  If you light up an illegal firework and it catches fire, it burns somebody's house down, you can very well be charged with the cause of that fire," he said.

The Bakersfield Fire Department responded to 671 calls over the holiday, citing 61 people and arresting one person.  City firefighters say they collected about 600 pounds of illegal fireworks.  Although, County Fire was busy handling calls of fireworks, they were also busy with other calls.

"The Kern County Fire Department handled a large number of grassfires last night that seemed to be the most active of all calls we had.  We did have our engines running around, both the city of Bakersfield and surrounding metro area all night long.  We had small little grass fires, the cause was various reasons, some of it were fireworks, some from other things," said Wilford.           

Any fireworks set off between now and New Year’s Eve is now prohibited in Kern County, which means you subject to a $500 fine if caught.

Also, if you're looking to get rid of any leftover fireworks, investigators say you can drop those off at any fire station.    

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