More fireworks in Americans’ hands for July 4 raises risks

More fireworks in Americans’ hands for July 4 raises risks

More fireworks in Americans’ hands for July 4 raises risks

ATLANTA — For many Americans, the Fourth of July will be more intimate this year. It also could be riskier.

Saturday will be unlike any Independence Day in recent memory. From Atlanta to San Diego, hundreds of fireworks shows have been cancelled as officials restrict large gatherings during the coronavirus pandemic, especially as infections surge across the U.S.

With fewer professional celebrations, many Americans are bound to shoot off fireworks in backyards and at block parties. And they already are: Sales have been booming. Some public safety officials say consumer fireworks in more hands means greater danger of injuries and wildfires in parts of the country experiencing dry, scorching weather.

“The general public is buying more than ever before,” said Steve Houser, president of the National Fireworks Association.

While it’s not clear exactly what is driving people to shops, some sellers think fireworks are a diversion for people who have been stuck at home during the pandemic.

“We’re seeing new customers … who usually don’t come to the fireworks tents,” said Robert Fletcher of Desert Sky Fireworks, which has locations across Arizona.

Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have received more complaints of illegal fireworks this summer than in previous years. While most states allow at least some types of consumer fireworks, many cities prohibit them, even non-explosive sparklers. But they acknowledge it is difficult to stop people from buying them just outside city limits where they’re legal.

In Arizona, which has battled wildfires for weeks, thousands of people have signed an online petition calling for Gov. Doug Ducey to ban fireworks this summer.

Delanie Thompson, 28, said she started the petition after seeing a neighbour’s house engulfed in flames last week during a wildfire in Phoenix. She said she and her boyfriend were forced to evacuate their home for 30 hours.

Thompson said she got angry when she later saw a roadside tent selling fireworks in a nearby town.

The Fourth of July is “about our independence,” she said. “Not just about fireworks.”

Authorities in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale seized nearly 4,000 pounds of banned fireworks this week after getting a tip about an illegal sales operation at a house.

Fireworks can be a big danger as many parts of the American West struggle with drought, turning vegetation into tinder for flames.

“It definitely compounds the risk for starting wildfires,” Jessica Gardetto, a spokeswoman for the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, said of fireworks.

The centre is predicting more wildfires than usual in July across a swath of the U.S. West. And fires started by retail fireworks tend to burn near homes, said Gardetto, who has heard them explode every day for the last week in her neighbourhood.

Fires are just one cause for concern. Some doctors fear injuries will increase this year as more people experiment with fireworks at home.

Dr. Erin Miller, a hand surgeon at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, said she amputated 42 fingers due to fireworks injuries last year while she was on call during the Fourth of July.

She has simple advice for revelers: Do not use larger fireworks like mortars and cherry bombs.

“Do not mix alcohol or any other substances if you’re choosing to use fireworks,” she added.

But not everyone is as alarmed by the increased interest in consumer fireworks.

“It’s business as usual for us,” said Chris James, a spokesman for the Glendale Fire Department.

The agency will have extra units on standby like usual for the holiday, he said. He recommends having water and a fire extinguisher nearby.

“It’s basic common sense we try to preach,” James said.

Fire departments and many sellers also urge people to have a sober “designated shooter,” said Houser of the National Fireworks Association.

Some in the industry believe monthslong lockdowns during the pandemic explain the increased interest in blowing off steam with fireworks.

“We’ve all been cooped up at home. We all have a lot of added stresses,” said James Fuller, a spokesman for TNT Fireworks. “I think a lot of folks want to feel good again.”

Suman Naishadham, The Associated Press

Fireworks

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Alberta joins Ontario in lowering minimum age for AstraZeneca vaccine

More than 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca have been administered in this country

Asymptomatic testing will now be available for "priority groups" who are most likely to spread the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable or at-risk populations. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta identifies 1,516 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday

Central zone has 1,849 active cases

Image/ Metro Creative Connection
County of Wetaskiwin responds to Alberta Energy Regulator’s decision on Directive 067.

On April 7, 2021 the Alberta Energy Regular (AER) announced a new edition of Directive 067.

A damaged unicorn statue is shown in a field outside of Delia, Alta. in this undated handout photo. It’s not often police can report that a unicorn has been found, but it was the truth Saturday when RCMP said a stolen, stainless-steel statue of the mythical beast had been located in a field not far from where he’d been taken. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Mounties get their unicorn; stolen statue of mythical beast found in Alberta field

Police are still looking for suspects, and have called in their forensics experts to help

There were six additional deaths across Alberta reported over the past 24 hours, bringing the death toll to 1,926 since the beginning of the pandemic. (File photo)
The Rogers logo is photographed in Toronto on Monday, September 30, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tijana Martin
Rogers investigating after wireless customers complain of widespread outage

According to Down Detector, problems are being reported in most major Canadian cities

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Nothing stopping provinces from offering AstraZeneca vaccine to all adults: Hajdu

Health Canada has licensed the AstraZeneca shot for use in people over the age of 18

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

A vial of some of the first 500,000 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada secured. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio
Canada’s 2nd blood clot confirmed in Alberta after AstraZeneca vaccine

The male patient, who is in his 60s, is said to be recovering

The funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip in Windsor, England, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Philip died April 9 at the age of 99. (Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP)
PHOTOS: Prince Philip laid to rest Saturday as sombre queen sits alone

The entire royal procession and funeral took place out of public view within the grounds of Windsor Castle

Most Read