Chicago fireworks complaint calls increase by 6,200 from last year, OEMC says

ByRavi Baichwal and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, June 24, 2020
Chicago fireworks-related calls increase 6,200 from last year, Office of Emergency Management and Communications says
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Complaints about fireworks are skyrocketing in Chicago, according to emergency officials.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Complaints about fireworks are skyrocketing in Chicago, according to emergency officials.

The city's Office of Emergency Management and Communications reported that Chicago fielded 7,042 disturbance calls about fireworks from the first of the year to Father's Day. During that same period last year, there were 842 calls related to fireworks. That's a 736% increase year over year.

The Chicago Fire Department said in a statement that fireworks remain illegal in the city. "Sparklers" are also illegal because they operate at such a high heat level they can cause serious burns.

But over the state line, Illinois customers dominated a parking lot of a famous fireworks outlet.

"I think all the anxiety of being cooped up and depression, and everybody not being able to work. I think it's opening up. I think people have a different kind of mode right now," said Greg Kaplan of Krazy Kaplans Fireworks.

RELATED: Shocking video shows homeless man attacked with firework in New York City

OEMC asked residents to be mindful of the safety and welfare of their neighbors and the larger community.

North of the city, the Evanston Police Department has fielded nearly 17 times the number of fireworks complaints from last year, with a major increase last weekend. Enforcing the law remains a challenge.

"Obviously we deal with response time that when the officer gets there they might not see the same thing as the citizen,"said Evanston Police Cmdr. Jason Garner.

RELATED: Chicago offers new Fourth of July celebrations during COVID-19; Navy Pier fireworks show cancelled

You can be fined as much as $150 if found with illegal fireworks. More broadly, anyone possessing, using, transferring or purchasing display fireworks without a valid state explosives license or storage certificate can be charged with a Class 3 felony.

In New York City, officials have received more than 13,000 complaints involving illegal fireworks this month -- compared to just 32 between June 1 and June 22 in 2019. In response, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the creation of a task force to crack down on illegal fireworks sales.