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Brush Fires, Illegal Fireworks Make For Busy Fourth
Most families observed a 'Safe and Sane' Fourth of July holiday by setting off legal fireworks in the streets, such as this family on the west end of Oakdale. However, not everyone observed the law as fire and police personnel spent the entire night responding to calls throughout the city for illegal fireworks exploding in the night sky. - photo by Kim Van Meter/The Leader

Illegal fireworks and two brush fires started by fireworks in two separate areas kept fire crews busy all night, Wednesday, July 4.

The first brush fire occurred on Gilbert Avenue and was quickly put, but another brush fire sparked a blaze on Crane Road that burnt a half acre and took an hour for firefighters to contain.

There were multiple calls for dumpster fires because people didn’t observe proper disposal methods for their used fireworks and simply tossed them into their trash cans at the end of the night and the illegal fireworks continued to light up the sky all over Oakdale, in spite of the zero tolerance approach taken by law enforcement.

“The illegal fireworks were all over the place,” said Capt. Matt Severson of the Oakdale City Fire Department. “It was nonstop.”

For fire and police personnel, the night was filled with running from one call to the next without end.

“We were up every two hours,” Severson said. “We’d just get back from a call and have to head back out again.”

Police had little luck in catching the perpetrators using illegal fireworks.

"We weren't able to catch anyone," admitted officer Max Messina with the Oakdale Police Department. "As soon as we turn the corner, they're gone."

There weren’t a rash a DUI arrests but there was a drowning preceding the July 4 holiday.

A 15-year-old Yuba City boy drowned Tuesday, July 3 at Woodward Reservoir, according to official reports.

The teen, identified as Matthew Yitevarek, was swimming with another teen when he went under and drowned.

Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department deputies administered CPR but the teen could not be revived.