DC Fire and EMS

Dangerous, Illegal Fireworks Go Off in DC on the Fourth of July

“The sound is coming through as if you are literally in a war zone. It’s very disruptive. It can be quite shocking,” a resident said

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People throughout our area reported hearing lots of exploding fireworks in their neighborhoods Sunday night, which are illegal in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. In the District, they’re believed to have caused fires that left serious damage.

One security camera video captured the dizzying crackle that went off in an alley off of N Street NW. The cast-off tubes of cardboard that held dozens of airborne, exploding fireworks still sat on the curb Monday. 

A longtime resident, who asked not to be identified, described what it sounds like. 

“The sound is coming through as if you are literally in a war zone. It’s very disruptive. It can be quite shocking,” he said. 

D.C. Fire and EMS said it responded to more than 90 outdoor fires during peak Fourth of July celebration hours, tweeting out images of the charred remains of two cars after a fire on T Street SE. 

The District’s fire marshal noted that last year’s Independence Day, muted due to the pandemic, seemed to embolden more people to get their hands on the type of fireworks that are not only illegal, but very dangerous.

“We did see an increase in illegal fireworks last year, and we think that partially is a cause, because of the pandemic, because there wasn’t really a legal way to purchase in the city,” Deputy Chief Mitchell Kannry said. “This year the stands were back operating and we’ve had less illegal firework encounters.”

On July 3, D.C. fire investigators shut down a stand and cited the owner for selling fireworks that move and explode, which are illegal without a permit.

Fire officials said 2,500 pounds of them were confiscated in the days leading up to July 4.

As for the resident of N Street, he said he now leaves town on the Fourth of July. 

“I go to a friend’s house in Maryland or somewhere else so I don’t have to deal with that,” he said. 

The fire department maintains a list of legal fireworks on its website. The number of citations for illegal fireworks were not yet available from D.C. Police due to the holiday.

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