Busy holiday weekend for Yucaipa Fire and Police

A fire caused by illegal fireworks was quickly extinguished on July 3, in the city of Yucaipa.

Illegal fireworks lit the sky on July 4. Yucaipa Police Department reported over 100 calls for service for illegal fireworks on July 4 alone. It was a busy night for local law enforcement.

There were a multitude of complaints about illegal fireworks for days leading up to the Fourth of July on social media pages. Residents said their animals were having extreme difficulty and others complained of fireworks going off until after 3 a.m. on certain nights.

CAL FIRE responded to six fires caused by illegal fireworks in the city of Yucaipa. One of those calls came a day early, on July 3, at 2:38 p.m., Yucaipa Fire Department and CAL FIRE engines responded to a reported vegetation fire on Avenue E and Seventh Street. Firefighters arrived on scene to find a half-acre vegetation fire in grass and brush coming from an area flood control wash with an immediate structure threat to a residence in the 33800 block of Avenue E. Immediate action taken by firefighters saved the residence from fire damage and firefighters were able to contain the vegetation fire to 1.25 acres.

CAL FIRE Law Enforcement officers determined the cause of the fire was due to fireworks and are continuing investigations. Yucaipa Fire Chief Grant Malinowski praised the homeowner for having proper weed abatement and defensible space in place, allowing the fire department appropriate time and fire conditions to save the home.

According to YPD, they were extremely busy. However, when deputies arrived on a fireworks scene, they were unable to determine the person setting them off, so it became an “area check.” In addition, two CAL  FIRE Law Enforcement officers were on patrol as well assisting with calls for service. There was at least one citation from YPD given to a Yucaipa resident for shooting illegal fireworks. CAL FIRE  Law Enforcement and police deputies seized multiple fireworks in the Yucaipa area.

D’Lorah DeBarge, lives in a senior mobilehome park in Yucaipa.

“It was like a war zone,” she said. “It was absolutely mayhem ... giant M80s, 50 feet tall. It was the sheer number of people setting off fireworks that surprised me. How did they get so many?”

DeBarge said she was in contact with YPD over the staggering number of fireworks near her home and her concern for a fire or major injury.

“They were going off all around me,” DeBarge said. “The next day, I picked up all the debris that they left on the ground. I called the YPD and they came to get it.”

DeBarge said YPD was very responsive. A female deputy visited neighbors in the area. The following day, the neighborhood was relatively quiet. “I was so glad,” said DeBarge.

Bennet Miloy, Fire Captain with CAL FIRE, said, “The night of the Fourth, 240 pounds of dangerous fireworks were seized in a multi-city enforcement operation. The fireworks seized were primarily large aerial explosives, known as mortars.

“Although fireworks can be fun, they are incredibly dangerous. They are responsible for injuries, fires, and deaths each year. According to a 2018 study done by the National Fire Protection Agency, fireworks started 19,500 fires, causing $105 million in damage.”

In contrast, the city of Calimesa reported zero 911 fire department calls related to fireworks on the Fourth of July. Throughout the day, the Calimesa Fire Department received about “a half dozen” non-emergency complaints related to fireworks, Battalion Chief Tim O’Connell said.

The Calimesa Fire Department did respond to one spot fire related to fireworks, but it was in the city of Yucaipa, O’Connell said.

“I would say Calimesa was abnormally quiet,” O’Connell said, regarding fireworks calls on July 4.

Riverside County Sheriff’s Department did not respond to a request for information regarding fireworks calls in Calimesa on July 4, however, the police report indicates there were nine fireworks-related calls on July 4.

Like most neighboring cities, Yucaipa canceled its fireworks show this year due to COVID-19 mass gathering restrictions.

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