Oakland busts alleged fireworks dealers

Police recovered more than $50,000 in illegal fireworks in a raid on an East Oakland home Thursday morning and arrested two suspected fireworks dealers, police said.

Officers responded just before 7:30 a.m. to a home in the 1100 block of 82nd Avenue and found the fireworks in the basement, Oakland police spokeswoman Officer Johnna Watson said.

Because of the type and volume of the cache, police called in the Alameda County sheriff’s Bomb Squad, Watson said. Most of the fireworks were aerials, Oakland Fire Department chief of staff Cynthia Perkins said.

Watson said the raid was part of a long-term investigation by the police department’s Special Investigative Unit-2, prompted by the Fourth of July holiday.

Children live in the area where police recovered the fireworks, so this was “a safety concern,” Watson said.

She said the fireworks posed a real danger if there was a heat source, such as a spark, in the basement.

Perkins agreed. She added that the Fourth of July weekend is one of the fire department’s busiest.

Watson said both men face felony charges.

Perkins said the fire department has set up barrels at six fire stations where people can drop off illegal fireworks. No one will be arrested and no one will ask any questions, she said.

“We just want to get as many off the street as possible,” Perkins said. “We are at a real disadvantage” with the drought.

The barrels will probably be there until Monday, she said. The barrels are at fire stations at 1603 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, 1445 14th St., 1235 International Blvd., 934 34th St., 1700 50th Ave. and 1401 98th Ave.

Perkins is encouraging families to enjoy one of the area’s many legal fireworks shows rather than display their own.

City officials said fireworks are illegal in Oakland and anyone caught with fireworks can be fined up $1,000. Anyone possessing large amounts of illegal fireworks can be fined $5,000 to $10,000 and go to prison.

Anyone who wants to report illegal fireworks to police can call the anonymous tip line at (510) 238-2373.