ST. LOUIS – Firefighters are still responding to fireworks-related calls in the St. Louis area. On July 4 and 5, the St. Louis Fire Department responded to 120 calls for burning neighborhood trash dumpsters.
Most were likely caused by smoldering remnants of fireworks.
“This is totally out of hand,” said St. Louis Fire Chief, Dennis Jenkerson. “The dumpsters are normally parked right next to a garage. We had several garage fires over the weekend as well.”
He said having an extended holiday weekend with July 4 falling on a Monday was a contributing factor. Dumpsters are full of trash and no trash pickup for three days in a row.
“One thing leads to another, a long holiday weekend with the fourth of July falling on a Monday,” said Jenkerson. “It adds up. The numbers speak to it.”
According to the St. Louis Fire Department, firefighters responded to 75 dumpster fires on independence day, which increases by more than 20 from last year. There were 45 more dumpster fires on July 5, during a triple-digit heat wave.
There were 16 building fires in the City of St. Louis on July 4, which rise from 11 last year. People have already piled new garbage on top of the ashes.
The City of St. Louis reports about 1,600 dumpsters in need of replacement, not counting those ruined this week. The plan is to replace one by the end of the year at a cost close to $1,300 in materials and labor. The total cost will be nearly $2.1 million.
Firefighters suspect fireworks cause a house fire in Florissant, on the early morning of July 5.
Jenkerson is looking at changing strategy for the next fourth of July.
“It might be worthwhile putting more of my fire marshals on the street, in cars,” said Jenkerson. “Putting off-duty battalion chiefs in cars to drive around and try to stop some of these displays. It needs to be done. Like I said, they’re not residential-type fireworks. These are big, big bombs that are going off. If you’re setting off a 2” shell 100 feet from a house, that’s not enough distance.”