Huge stashes of contraband fireworks seized across US

Thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks were taken in Calif. and Ohio

PACHECO, Calif. — The combination of prolonged dry weather and consumer fireworks is a firefighter and EMT nightmare. Toss into that mix black-market fireworks, and the problems grow exponentially.

But in several separate busts across the United States, fire and police officials are taking large amounts of illegal fireworks off the market.

In Norwalk, Calif., authorities seized more than 8,000 pounds of illegal fireworks from a self-storage unit. KTLA  reports that there were 91 cases of mortars, bottle rockets, Roman candles and other fireworks valued at about $20,000.

The registered owner of the storage unit has not been taken into custody, but charges are expected, KTLA reports.

Two weeks ago, state fire marshals working on a tip by neighbors uncovered 7,000 pounds of illegal fire works at a home in West Alexandria, Ohio. According to Fox19, the street value of that stash was about $25,000.

In Toledo, Ohio, undercover agents recently pulled 5,000 pounds of illegal fireworks off the street (see video).

And in Pacheco, Calif., Wednesday, Costa Contra fire officials seized as much as 500 pounds of illegal fireworks from two homes.

"What you're looking at here, this would be bigger than most professional fireworks shows," Contra Costa Fire Capt. Robert Marshall told the Contra Costa Times. "This is one of the biggest stashes of fireworks I've ever seen."

In that case, two men were arrested in what authorities told the paper was part of a major illegal sales operation.

Marshall told the paper that across the United States, fireworks cause $35 million in damage every July 4 alone, and amateurs illegally handling such powerful explosives often cause severe injuries and sometimes even deaths.

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