So far this summer, the NYPD has seized thousands of dollars in explosives and made more than 20 fireworks-related arrests. But despite all that, on Sunday night the city’s 311 and 911 operators still received nearly 6,000 calls about illegal fireworks, CBS2’s Ali Bauman reported Monday.
The noise was prevalent from the top of Manhattan to Brooklyn.
“It was too noisy. I couldn’t sleep,” Washington Heights resident Carmen Rodrigues said.
“They were explosions. We had M-80s, kaboom!” resident Deborah Stucker said.
“I wore earplugs and headphones with music and I could still hear the fireworks,” resident Kim Thai added.
And the holiday was just the latest in what has been an incendiary summer.
“They’re very loud and they go on throughout the night until like 3 o’clock in the morning, sometimes 4,” resident Bobbie Michaels said.
“They’re lighting them next to high buildings. It could go in someone’s window,” Sterling Davis said.
As the skies brightened Monday morning, Washington Heights was littered with empty explosives boxes.
“You don’t know when they’re gonna stop, right?. It could be 3 in the morning and they’re still going up, or you’re walking your dog or something in the park and then, boom, all of a sudden,” resident Lucas Williams said.
Stucker told Bauman she feels like this year has been worse than most.
Rodrigues agreed, saying, “This year is worse.”
For the first half of 2021, calls to 311 for illegal fireworks skyrocketed by 900% compared to 2020, prompting City Hall to create an Illegal Fireworks Task Force.
“Everybody is doing whatever they wanna do and nobody’s stopping. Even the police, they look around but aren’t doing nothing at all,” Rodrigues said.
But City Hall says illegal fireworks complaints have gone down in the last month compared to last year.
The NYPD says in collaboration with the FDNY and Sheriff’s Office, they’ve taken $54,000 worth of illegal fireworks off the streets as of July 3, including a seizure last week of explosives being sold on craigslist.
But not all New Yorkers are convinced the progress is going to last.
“What has to be done is stop the trafficking. If they can’t get here, they can’t light them,” Davis said.
“It’s gonna go on the whole summer!” Thai said.
“I think we need some heads together to come up with solutions. Otherwise, it’s just gonna keep happening,” Williams added.
In a statement, a City Hall spokesman acknowledged the recent seizures and said, “What we saw last night in many places was not acceptable, and we will continue intercepting and confiscating dangerous, illegal fireworks.”
Last summer, at least 30 New Yorkers suffered severe burns or lost fingers due to illegal fireworks, according to the FDNY. Bauman asked the NYPD repeatedly how many fireworks-related arrests it made this past weekend, but it refused to answer.