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Delaware Headlines

Increased fireworks use draws more fire calls

A row of fountain fireworks on a table at a stand in a Safeway parking lot.
Roman Battaglia
Delaware Public Media

There were lots of calls about illegal fireworks being set off over the holiday weekend and at least one major injury was reported in Delaware.



"It was increased quite a bit... this year," said Michael Chionchio, assistant State Fire Marshal.

Chionchio says the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an increased use of consumer and illegal fireworks statewide.

This weekend alone there were 24 calls for service throughout the state according to Chionchio, and he said they’ve been receiving calls of fireworks since April.

Chionchio says there is a window for legal ground-based fireworks in the First State, but over this weekend most complaints were about illegal ones.

"Fireworks which were permitted to be bought 30 days prior to July 4th are no longer permitted to be in Delaware - no sales and of course no usage - the majority of violations are fireworks that we received complaints weren't even the ones that were legalized they were the illegal aerial type of fireworks," said Chionchio.

He adds most calls were for trash and grass fires, but there was $5,000 damage at Bayview Manor in New Castle when fireworks ignited a fire to the side of a house.

Also, an 18-year-old woman suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns in Smyrna when she was accidentally hit by a firework, and others in Smyrna complained about fireworks debris on their homes.

There was also a dumpster fire in New Castle at the William Penn Village apartments on July 4th just before 11 p.m.

Chionchio hopes the illegal firework season is over.

"We hope that everything has been settled and everybody got it out of their system if they had to do it they did it and it's done with hopefully some professional fireworks displays hopefully come up in the fall some of the postponed ones may come up depending on public health and the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully we will enjoy a nice outside licensed professional display."

Chionchio did say there were numerous complaints statewide of fireworks being a nuisance.

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