Concerns over illegal fireworks this Lunar New Year

FOX 2 KTVU February 11, 2016

There is growing frustration in San José over illegal fireworks, which is a big problem this time of year as people celebrate the Lunar New Year. This week, illegal fireworks were to blame for a two-alarm blaze at the Grand Century Strip Mall in South San José.

So far, no one has been cited for the illegal fireworks show that happened at the mall, all caught on camera. It has some residents not only angry but concerned, the problem is only getting worse.

As Lunar New Year celebrations ramp up, some residents aren't celebrating the uncontrolled fireworks displays that light up the night skies. On Monday night, several witnesses captured video of a two-alarm fire at the Grand Century Strip Mall. A tree and part of the building burned.

The San José Fire Department said it may have started from a large fireworks show, and who's responsible is still under investigation. It took 40 firefighters to control the blaze.

"I feel like putting up a sign to everybody," said Jeff Levine of San José. "Come to San José. You can buy, sell and explode any kind of firework with impunity and no risk to yourself at all."

Levine witnessed the fireworks going off at the mall and assumed it was a permitted show, which it wasn't.

"The City of San José needs to put some enforcement action on it and burden the cost of the fire response to owner and operator of Grand Century Mall," said Levine.

Calls to the mall weren't returned.

"Certainly now we are addressing this and we are attempting to do more than we are doing before," said San José City Councilmember Raul Peralez.

Peralez said the city is working on finalizing an ordinance to allow park rangers and community service officers to issue citations as soon as next month.

"This is something none of us want to have whether it's a nuisance, whether it's affecting you because you have ptsd, you have pets or the worst case something catches on fire and we have a loss in property or even life," said Peralez.