NEW ORLEANS -- Nationwide, 12,000 people go to the emergency room each year because of fireworks. More than 18,000 fires are started with fireworks every year in the US. Louisiana residents are in those numbers.
"We have an uptick in fires, calls for service, and obviously in medical calls," said New Orleans Fire Chief Timothy McConnell.
In Orleans Parish, firefighters go out on neighborhood firework complaint calls, which could delay them from fire and medical emergencies. In Jefferson Parish about 150 complaint calls come in to 911 each year about fireworks with the majority of them coming around The Fourth.
"(There was an) incident on the bayou last year where we actually arrested somebody for shooting illegal fireworks. People just don't quite understand how dangerous it is," McConnell said.
Another example, in 2008, a newlywed couple and parents-to-be were left to sift through water-soaked wedding gifts and what was left of their belongings when a firework ember landed on their roof and burned their apartment in Kenner.
Later, firefighters were called to the scene of an elderly woman's home lost when an ember from fireworks lands in leaves on her roof. Ironically, her son is a captain in the NOFD.
And now, some people say it seems like more and more of their neighbors are shooting off fireworks.
"It grow progressively,"says Lakeview resident Deborah Pelias. "I'm worried about how loud or how long it's going to go on for The Fourth. It was, oh I would say, days on end for New Years Eve."
And not only is it illegal to shoot fireworks in Orleans and much of Jefferson Parishes, but the ones that do the most damage are the illegal fireworks that come from other countries and are not up to code. Fireworks are supposed to have enough fuel to burn up in the air, but illegal ones can release embers that are still burning when they fall to the ground.
"How many people lost their home in Katrina? Well, take that feeling and it is just as horrific, if not more, if you lose your house to a fire," McConnell said.
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