NORTH TEXAS -- Pretty much everyone knows fireworks are illegal without a permit in most parts of Texas, including in all cities. But, lots of people just can't help themselves on Independence Day, and it's anything but a celebration for the first-responders tasked with trying to stop them.
"It's tough. Our crews [on July 4] were extremely busy," says Capt. Kyle Falkner of the Fort Worth Fire Department. "They were running around, constantly moving to the next area trying to find these violations."
It was a record-breaking night in a bad way for Fort Worth. The department's illegal fireworks hotline received 2,273 calls, breaking last year's previous July 4 record of 1,500 -and that's not including calls placed to 911. Falkner says more than 600 pounds of fireworks were confiscated (the day prior, Dallas Fire-Rescue caught more than 7,100 pounds in just one location!), but it still wasn't enough. There were two reports of hand injuries suffered by amateur lighters, and more than 70 grass fires also required attention. While investigations into their causes were not yet complete as of Thursday afternoon, Falkner says it's safe to say at least a good portion were sparked by fireworks.
"We literally had units going from one fire to the next with no break in between."
With ground conditions in DFW being extremely dry, it doesn't take much to start a fire - and it doesn't take much for it to spread, either.
"Once one starts, they grow extremely fast," says Falkner. "And you certainly don't want to be the person who burns your neighbor's house down because you were out shooting off fireworks."
Yeah, that might make for a little awkwardness!
Despite the obvious reasons to not partake in any backyard blast-offs, a Forney woman had to be airlifted to a hospital after a firework exploded in her hand.
Despite July 4 being over, officials still expect to get more calls through this weekend. If you're in Fort Worth you're asked to call their fireworks hotline at (817) 392-4444 and NOT 911 to keep the latter line open for other emergencies.