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Illegal fireworks spark fires, cause injuries around the bay

Fireworks, always a hazard and a hallmark of the Fourth of July, sparked fires and caused injuries around the Bay Area late Friday and early Saturday and prompted cautions from fire officials who fear more incidents on an Independence Day without official fireworks displays.

Thirteen fires — three house fires, eight vegetation fires and two vehicle fires — were battled by firefighters in Contra Costa County, according to the county’s fire protection district, and at least three were sparked by fireworks, said Tracie Dutter, a district spokeswoman. The causes of the 10 other fires remain under investigation but fireworks could be the cause.

“It is that time of year,” she said.

Four of the fires — two vehicle fires and two house fires — occurred in Concord about a half hour apart around 2 a.m. All were quickly extinguished.

San Francisco fire officials reported that a firecracker placed in a drainpipe at 197 Edinburgh St. at 7:40 p.m. Friday shattered three windows, but no one was injured. The incident is under investigation.

In Menlo Park, a man was taken to the hospital with cuts and burns to his face and hands after a glass bottle with fireworks in it exploded, according to a news release from the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.

Fire and law enforcement officials fear more fires and injuries from fireworks. They’ve promised to be out in force to stop the illegal use of explosive devices, and warned people they could start fires, injure themselves or others and terrify pets.

Fireworks are illegal in most of the Bay Area. Even the so-called “safe and sane” fireworks can only be sold or used in 11 cities around the bay. Yet the booms, bangs and pops of illegal fireworks have been common all over the region — and across the nation — since Memorial Day. Annoyed residents have police and fire officials with complaints.

Authorities attribute the burst in illegal fireworks to people tired of being stuck in their houses blowing off a little steam — and pyrotechnics — as counties and states began to reopen their economies and as communities canceled traditional fireworks displays.

Michael Cabanatuan is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @ctuan

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