"Fire in the hole," yelled an Arson Investigation Unit official before lighting an M80 firework attached to a watermelon to highlight the dangers of illegal fireworks.
The El Monte Police Department held a news conference Wednesday morning, where officials lit fireworks, like the loud watermelon explosion, to show how dangerous they can be.
"Over the past few years, there has been overwhelming resident concern over the use of illegal fireworks, which has led to serious injuries, property fires and an overburdened El Monte Police Department," said a spokeswoman for the El Monte Police Department.
Last year, El Monte police reported the department confiscated at least 46 tons of illegal fireworks in 25 sting operations. Forty-one people were arrested on felony charges as a result.
Top news of the day
Some of those confiscated fireworks were displayed at the news conference Wednesday.
This year, El Monte police are offering $50 a tip for information about illegal fireworks use.
While "Safe and Sane" fireworks are legal in some Southern California communities, fire officials stress that those fireworks must be approved fireworks with the State Fire Marshall seal on them.
In other communities that don't permit "Safe and Sane" fireworks, all fireworks are considered illegal.
Under California law, any person found with illegal fireworks in their possession faces a fine between $500 and $1,000 and possible jail time up to a year for the misdemeanor.
Any person found with dangerous illegal fireworks faces fines ranging from $500 to over $50,000, decided by the weight of the fireworks in that person's possession.
The LA County Fire Department and the Orange County Fire Authority encourage residents to attend professional shows and avoid the danger of illegal fireworks.