St. Louis police report a 400 percent increase in calls for illegal fireworks across the city

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ST. LOUIS – St. Louis police took in a huge haul of fireworks in south city, part of a crackdown on the sale and use of fireworks in the city.

According to a witness, a man had been selling fireworks out of his car in the parking lot of a convenience store at Spring and Delor for about a week.

That ended around 8 p.m. Thursday when St. Louis Police Bomb and Arson detectives seized all of the fireworks and gave the man a summons. Police posted photos of the haul on social media. Fines go as high as $500 in the city.

Fireworks cause more trouble than they’re worth, authorities said.

Already this season, they were blamed for sparking a roof fire at the former Cleveland High School in south St. Louis on Saturday.

Fireworks are legal in much of the region but not in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, and the state of Illinois.

There are reports of sales being up 200 to 300 percent this year, with most fireworks displays canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, fire and injury concerns are soaring, too.

St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson said fireworks today were much more powerful than they were a generation ago, putting off more sparks, which most commonly fall onto rooftops or into dumpsters to start fires.

Firefighters had been pushing to get city dumpsters emptied and have businesses pull dumpsters away from their businesses as precautions, he said.

“These are not good things to shoot. They’re bad. They cause us an issue,” Jenkerson said. “In 2017, we had a firefighter who went to a fire caused by fireworks. He ended up dying. It was a line of duty death. He was two weeks away from retiring; just a completely senseless loss of life. This is personal to me.”

“We’re asking you and your neighbors, don’t shoot off fireworks in our city,” St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said this week. “There’s already been one person who’s shown up at a hospital (who) had several fingers blown off.”

There are signs that public concern is growing, too. Over the first 4 weeks of June last year, St. Louis police reported fewer than 240 complaints, compared to more than a thousand this year. There have been 367 complaints filed since Monday.

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