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Hundreds of Illegal Fireworks Seized, Men Arrested

Almost 500 pounds of illegal fireworks and explosives were seized by local authorities just a week before the Fourth of July holiday.

Two men were arrested in Pacheco Wednesday morning after authorities discovered hundreds of pounds of illegal fireworks and dangerous explosives at their homes, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District officials said.

Sheriff's deputies arrested Richard Tapia, 45, and Jessie Aron Payn, 19, after serving search warrants and locating a combined 400 to 500 pounds of illegal fireworks and explosives, Contra Costa County fire Capt. Robert Marshall said.

Both men were arrested on suspicion of possessing illegal fireworks and explosives with the intent to sell them. Marshall said he does not know whether the two are acquainted.

The arrests came after fire investigators received a tip that the two men owned large amounts of illegal pyrotechnics, Marshall said.

Fire investigators were able to confirm the information from that tip and obtained a search warrant for Tapia's home in the 300 block of Fourth Avenue South, and for Payn's house in the 900 block of Temple Drive, he said.

Marshall said the arrests were intentionally timed to occur before the Fourth of July holiday, when the fire district typically sees hundreds of fireworks-related blazes.

"We're getting into prime fire season here, and fireworks are one of the big causes of fires...as well as injuries," he said.

Last year around this time, Marshall said, one resident of the district lost most of his hand after handling a dangerous explosive.

Owning, selling or discharging fireworks is illegal throughout the fire protection district, which encompasses much of the county including Concord, Antioch, Pittsburg, Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.

Fire district officials encourage anyone needing to dispose of fireworks to call their local police or fire department.

- Bay City News Service

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