BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — The Fourth of July is one of the busiest nights of the year for the Bakersfield Fire Department. Not only in regards to the potential fires that break out but also because of the use of illegal fireworks. One woman took matters into her own hands because she’s tired of dealing with them.
Beatrice Camarillo says she is still dealing with the effects of her neighbors continuing to light illegal fireworks in her community because she’s dealt with the repercussions once before around this holiday.
“I haven’t slept and I have chest pain so I am still under stress from the whole thing. I don’t know when I’m going to sleep because I’m just a ball of nerves,” said Camarillo. “I had a house fire. It was around the Fourth of July holiday and my house burnt and it was terrible.”
So Sunday night she called the illegal fireworks hotline but she says she couldn’t get through.
“It's busy. You can’t call it in because it's busy and you can’t get through. So the telephoning is not working.”
That’s when Camarillo decided to take matters into her own hand and called the Bakersfield Police Department instead. But as a result of her anger at the situation, she says she did make a threat to get them there.
“I was that angry. I wanted you to come. I needed you to come. So I probably made a threat to get you to come.”
And when BPD arrived, Camarrillo says she was scolded for what she reported and was told that she could be arrested for it. She says they suggested she leave her home on the 4th in the future.
“The police officer that came to my house last night he said, ‘well it's the Fourth of July and maybe you should think about leaving for the Fourth of July so that you’re not here when all of this is going on.’”
Cathy Olague also lives in the community and says their main concern is the potential for fires to break out.
“If you want to celebrate, go and pay for it and go to a stadium where it's safe to do so, but please don’t do it in neighborhoods in the middle of a drought when we have so many dry trees all around us."
Camarillo also adds that in the future, they’re no longer tolerating the illegal fireworks, and soon she will be ready to move forward with civil suits and serving some of her neighbors cease and desist orders.
“Stop it because you are terrorizing us and I think that we’re not going to put up with it anymore. I think that civilly we can do something about it and it's time to proceed.”
23ABC was able to speak with the family doing fireworks. They did not want to be on camera but they shared that their fireworks were not illegal and say they have every right to do so and express their patriotism on the one night of the year that it’s acceptable.
23ABC reached out to the BPD for a comment, but couldn’t reach them.
How common are illegal fireworks are in Kern County?
In 2019 the Bakersfield Fire Department issued 51 citations for illegal fireworks and made one arrest during its enforcement period between July 1st and July 5th.
In 2020, the Bakersfield Fire Department received just under a thousand calls for illegal fireworks and issued 71 illegal fireworks citations.
Final numbers for 2021 have not been released, but the fire department says it responded to 176 calls about fireworks.
It is still legal to set off some fireworks, so you might hear a little more noise on Monday night. If you do, you can still report it.