LEVITTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Fourth of July holiday weekend is just about here, and this year officials say they are seeing an explosion of illegal fireworks.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Wednesday, they have a very graphic warning for those partaking in the dangerous activity.
Unintended explosions too often are what happens when good intentions go terribly wrong.
“I promise you in a day or two some kid is going to blow his hand off or get severely injured messing with fireworks,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
Using a watermelon, Nassau police demonstrated illegal fireworks in a warning to users that they are not only breaking the law, but are literally playing with fire.
“It’s hands, fingers, arms, eyes, ears, legs. It’s all because people don’t know how to use fireworks safely,” said Det. Lt. Ken Strigaro of the Nassau County Arson/Bomb Squad.
Nassau police say complaints skyrocketed during the pandemic, with 242 in 2019, compared to 1,227 in 2020 and 696 so far this year.
The numbers are on pace to remain a major hazard, which can cause fires, too.
“The number of fires we have on the Fourth of July goes up on average 400% because people carelessly use the fireworks and they carelessly dispose of the fireworks,” said Det. Lt. Ken Strigaro of the Nassau County Arson/Bomb Squad.
Residents in Levittown said they’ve been hit with a barrage nightly.
“All of a sudden, it starts. It’s a little scary,” one person said.
“I guess more people want to do it because they trying to get out and do something,” another said.
“A couple of loud ones that really scared me,” another added.
Fireworks, legal in some states, brought into New York illegally, usually transported by car can be disastrous, including sparklers geared toward children.
“We have seen so many incidents of clothing going on fire, skin being burned, eyes injured, so these are illegal for a reason,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.
Illegal fireworks can be just as dangerous as commercial grade. Those in possession face not only criminal charges, but civil penalties to reimburse police who have to destroy all of them.
Police say they are being proactive in making arrests in these cases and are urging people to keep celebrations from becoming catastrophes by leaving fireworks to the professionals.
Police are asking the public to report illegal fireworks to them, or call 911 if they are already underway. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.