East Bay couple forced out of home because of illegal fireworks

A couple in Contra Costa County has been forced out of their home and firefighters say it’s due to illegal fireworks.

Before, during, and after the Fourth of July, people continue to use fireworks illegally.

Robin Anderson clutched one of her cats as she watched the Antioch home she rents go up in flames.

She’s blaming the blaze on what firefighters have confirmed as the cause, fireworks.

"They’re ruining my life, ruined my house, everything I own is out on my front lawn," said Anderson.  "And for what, I don’t understand why they’re doing it.  It doesn’t make sense.  We have a drought and they’re blowing them off like it’s a game."

MORE: High-profile Bay Area illegal fireworks busts expose multi-million dollar black market

Just after 9 p.m. on Saturday, firefighters were called to the single-story house at H and 6th streets, where the flames threatened nearby homes.

Shortly before that fire, firefighters responded to another incident nearby.

A neighborhood kid tried unsuccessfully to put the flames out before firefighters arrived.

"So, the fireworks have been going off all night around here," said ConFire Battalion Chief Scott Valencia. "Recently we were just one street over for fireworks that caught some grass and vehicles on fire, and this is a good likelihood that this is from the same fire."

Firefighters removed possessions from the home, which is no longer habitable.

MORE: Illegal fireworks confiscated from ice cream truck in Pittsburg

Anderson and her husband were not home when the fire started, but their cats were. They managed to find all three.

Sunday afternoon, the couple was back at the property trying to figure out what to do with their things, and their lives.

"We’re just bewildered.  We don’t know, this just totally put us out.  We just paid rent, we just paid our bills.  We have no money so, it’s just such a, it’s just life-altering," said Anderson.

Residents say fireworks are a persistent problem in this neighborhood.

"Every night.  Every night.  We’ve had illegal fireworks here since June of 2020," said Michael Koster.

"It’s not just an Independence holiday problem, fireworks are always a problem whenever they are set off in conditions like these," said spokesperson Steve Hill, spokesperson for the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District. 

Despite dangerous conditions and potential fines in the hundreds of dollars, fireworks have become an ongoing fire problem, one that’s become personal for Robin Anderson.

"I’d like to see them stop.  I want them to be held responsible. I mean, I want somebody who did this to go to jail," said Anderson.

Some police departments like Concord are using apps to help people report the use of fireworks, which are banned throughout the county.

ConFire says it’s examining data and working with law enforcement to come up with solutions.