The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office responded to fewer calls regarding fireworks this year than in 2018.

Sheriff Pat Withrow said on Independence Day, deputies responded to 108 calls involving fireworks, a decrease from the 177 calls made last year during the holiday.

Deputies confiscated 152 illegal fireworks on July 4, which was also a decrease from the 236 seized last year.

Withrow and Montezuma Fire Protection District Chief Ed Martel presented fireworks enforcement activities to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Withrow said 20 of his deputies were tasked with responding to fireworks-related calls, including seven in unmarked patrol cars.

“We go out and try to stop it before (an incident) happens,” Withrow said. “We saw people starting to set up to set off illegal fireworks, and we swooped in and stopped them before it happened.”

While numbers from the Sheriff’s Office had decreased this year, firefighters throughout the county responded to more calls involving fireworks.

Martel said the 18 fire districts and departments in San Joaquin County responded to 657 calls between 12 a.m. July 4 and 12 a.m. July 5, an increase from the more than 500 reported in 2018.

In addition, Martel said firefighters responded to 454 calls regarding fires, most of which were started by rogue fireworks.

The majority of those fires occurred in cities and not unincorporated county areas, he said.

Martel did not have statistics specific to individual departments Tuesday.

Despite the increase in calls, Martel said law enforcement and fire agency efforts to quell the use of illegal fireworks during the Fourth of July are working.

“We’re not just confiscating fireworks during the holiday,” he said. “We’re getting individuals off of websites and social media pages who are trying to solicit illegal fireworks to residents. We’re cracking down on illegal sales and making sure only the safe and sane fireworks are being sold and used.”

Supervisor Chuck Winn, who represents District 4, said it was good to see all of the county’s fire departments and law enforcement agencies working together to make the entire region safer.

“I think it sends a message and is a fine deterrent when it comes to illegal fireworks in this county,” he said. “I think we’re making progress, and I think the information you provide to the public each year shows we’re heading in the right direction.”

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