WASHINGTON - As revelers were celebrating the Fourth of July in the nation’s capital, D.C. police said they seized more than 45,000 pieces of illegal fireworks in the city while the fire department treated several burn victims and put out dozens of fires directly related to fireworks.
Some of the illegal fireworks were seized by officers on patrol – mostly from people who were trying to sell them. East of the Anacostia River in the Sixth District alone, D.C. police confiscated tens of thousands of illegal fireworks.
"They were responding to community concerns and on proactive police patrol, and they were able to recover from people who wanted to sell fireworks and people who wanted to use fireworks and they recovered 45,000 pieces,” said D.C. Police Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson.
And that was just in one section of the city. On 13th Street in Northwest D.C. after being tipped off by a story on DCist, the fire marshal shut down a planned illegal display after the fireworks on the National Mall had ended.
D.C. Fire and EMS Chief Gregory Dean said the man who planned the event was detained, but not arrested.
"We coordinated with MPD and two of our agencies went up there and confirmed there were illegal fireworks,” said Dean. “They were setting up and since it’s illegal, we ceased the operation.”
The fire chief said they seized about 10 boxes of illegal fireworks there.
Eight people, including children, suffered burns from fireworks Wednesday night as D.C. firefighters raced from fire to fire all over the city to put out blazes started in dumpsters and other places by fireworks.
"We responded to over 700 calls,” Chief Dean said. “The average is usually 500 calls. We had 89 fire-related incidents yesterday. We had eight people injured yesterday. So again, the reason the code is there is to not only keep you safe, but also keep the neighborhood safe – so illegal fires and all the things that go along with it. It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt.”
It wasn't just illegal fireworks that were injuring people. Guns were also being fired off in celebration and resulted in injuries as well.
"They decided that they wanted to celebrate the Fourth of July by discharging a firearm on public space, injuring multiple people,” said Dickerson.
Chief Dean said he is not in favor of banning all fireworks in the city. As for the illegal fireworks that keep coming into D.C., he said they will continue to seize them and destroy them.