Heck, we haven't even made it to July (let alone the Fourth) and already cops in Santa Ana and Costa Mesa have made huge hauls of illegal fireworks.
On Thursday, undercover Santa Ana cops responding to a craigslist advertisement went to a residence in the 1100 block of West Stanford, where they posed as buyers. Police then seized 560 pounds of illegal fireworks worth up to $10,000, according to Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the department spokesman.
Someone living at the residence was arrested on suspicion of possessing illegal fireworks, Bertagna added. Police officers took the fireworks cache to an Orange County Fire Authority facility in Anaheim for destruction.
Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Conciald called the fireworks "extremely dangerous."
"These were the dangerous explosives, the kinds that blow hands off," Concialdi told City News Service, noting those types of fireworks are acquired from outside the country, often unregulated and have quick fuses.
The fire authority, which last year responded to 39 serious injuries, recently held a news conference with Orange County sheriff's officials to stress only safe and sane fireworks should be used in areas where they are allowed. Those authorities also echoed the recent statements of state fire officials who warned the public our long drought has set us up for a horrible wildfire season.
Santa Ana residents are encouraged to attend public displays of fireworks, which they can find the locations of by calling 714.573.6225.
The same day of the Santa Ana seizure, cops in neighboring Costa Mesa we called shortly before 8 p.m. to the parking lot behind Newport Liquor, 2200 Newport Blvd., where a man was allegedly selling fireworks out of a red pick-up truck with a U-Haul trailer attached to it.
Officers met with Antonio Arellano near his red Dodge Durango (with attached trailer) and discovered the 51-year-old was selling illegal fireworks to local minors, according to a Costa Mesa Police Department statement. He was later arrested and booked into Orange County Jail in Santa Ana (although I don't know if he was stuck in a cell with the previous arrestee).
Arellano had purchased more than 500 pounds of illegal fireworks for $2,000 in Pahrump, Nevada, before bringing them to Orange County to sell, according to Costa Mesa police. (Either Arellano got a screaming deal or the quality was less than the 560 pounds taken in Santa Ana, where Bertagna set the street value at between $5,000-$10,000.)
Costa Mesa fire investigators confiscated Arellano's truck and the attached trailer containing the fireworks. The 300 or so mortars, 300 aerial fireworks, 300 Roman candles, 3,600 bottle rockets, 40 large sky rockets, more than 600 M-150 type explosives, and over 11,000 firecrackers are set to be disposed of at 3 p.m. today at Costa Mesa Fire Station No. 4 at 2300 Placentia Ave., according to city officials.
The city previously announced that only "safe and sane" fireworks can be set off during certain hours July 2-4. (As a resident of the north part of the city, I can tell you we've had foundation-shaking blasts going on just about nightly for the past three weeks.)
On the next page is what police and fire officials say they removed from Arellano's trailer and another shot from the Santa Ana case …