St. Louis fire chief says department responded to nearly 500 calls on Fourth of July

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ST. LOUIS – While people were busy celebrating the Fourth of July the St. Louis Fire Department was busy responding to nearly 500 calls regarding fires. Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said those numbers may sound high but they’re on par with past years.

“As long as I’ve been doing this, I think it was a fairly typical night in the city of St. Louis,” he said.

In all, the department responded to 499 fire-related calls Sunday night. Chief Jenkerson said the recent weather may have helped.

“The wet weather that we had earlier in the week helped out a little bit,” he said. “We didn’t see as many of the old, abandoned buildings that were burning. We didn’t really have any of those, so (the rain) probably helped.”

The numbers may be similar but one number Jenkerson touched on was 54 dumpster fires. He said people don’t realize the trickle-down effect they have.

“You don’t put the hot BBQ coals and you don’t put the spent fireworks in these dumpsters. It starts fires and then that dumpster fire leads to a garage fire, which is a whole other issue,” he said.

Jenkerson was also surprised by the number of large displays that occurred without a permit.

“I was surprised by the sound and the length of the show. It was also attended fairly well,” he said. “There looked like there were about 200-300 people sitting on a wall over in Carondelet Park. I know it wasn’t a permitted show because we approve those permits at the St. Louis Fire Department.”

The chief said the department will make note of the ones that weren’t permitted ahead of next year and address them accordingly.

“The people were way too close to what was going on in Carondelet Park last night,” he said. “That was an accident or disaster waiting to happen.”

Overall, there is some good news from all these calls – no deaths have been reported as of 5 p.m. Monday.

But the reality remains that fireworks can be extremely dangerous.

Jenkerson said people will probably still be lighting off fireworks this evening and the department will have its trucks ready to go.

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