Medford police cited 20 people for possessing illegal fireworks and responded to 135 reports of illegal fireworks on the Fourth of July, Medford police Chief Tim George said.

“We probably could have cited more people, but it is difficult to witness a firework going off above town and then determine where it came from,” George said. “Also, it was tough to determine who owned the illegal fireworks when we responded to some residences where they were going off.”

The department had three additional officers, four community service officers and a fire marshal from Medford Fire-Rescue cruising the town in search of illegal fireworks, George said.

“Our officers said that this year the illegal firework activity was bit slower than previous years,” George said. “We believe that's because we've gotten the word out that we are going to be citing for illegal fireworks. The education component seems to have worked.”

The department went to the media prior to the holiday and posted flyers in businesses to warn that people would be ticketed for using banned fireworks. In previous years the agency did not make it a priority to cite residents for illegal fireworks over the holiday, but the tide shifted this year because of an increase in complaints, police said.

“We think that the danger of these fireworks outweighs the benefits at this point,” George said. “There's other ways to enjoy the holiday without taking the chance of injuring people and starting a fire.”

Officers responded to a house in the 700 block of Rocky Road just before midnight for a report of injuries sustained when a firework exploded in a crowd of people.

A 34-year-old man was suspected of lighting a banned mortar that fell over and shot into a nearby group of people, which included two children. The mortar set a duplex on fire, but the residents were able to extinguish it prior to the arrival of fire crews.

No serious injuries were reported, but the man was cited for illegal fireworks and recklessly endangering another.

Possessing illegal fireworks carries a $250 fine.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or