NYC, Long Island, NJ warn of consequences in illegal fireworks crackdown

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Cities around the nation are cracking down on illegal fireworks, which have become an increasing problem with people cooped up at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week, New York City announced a multi-agency crackdown on illegal fireworks after people shooting them off in neighborhoods across the city has been a rampant issue for several weeks.

In one instance, a homeless man was injured when people shot fireworks at him. And on Wednesday, Eyewitness News obtained video of a 3-year-old boy getting hurt when a firework launched from the street exploded in his window.
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A 3-year-old boy was hurt when fireworks launched in the street struck her in her apartment in the Bronx

And now, the big bang can come with a big price.

"This will blow your arm off, this will blow your hand off," Nassau Count Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "This will kill your neighbor if it's fired in the wrong direction."

Long Island, like other areas, is seeing a spike in the number of illegal fireworks complaints as we approach July 4.

"Our police department has received 1,277 calls of illegal fireworks being set off," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "That is more than a 400% increase year to date than the year before."

County officials are also worried that this could pose harm to veterans and those with PTSD.

"We know that random fireworks can be a trigger for PTSD," Curran said.

They are encouraging people to report the sale of illegal fireworks online.

"Let's just stay calm and everybody relax and enjoy the Fourth of July," Ryder said. "Put the fireworks aside."

The dangers come from firecrackers to blockbusters to M80s, and yes, even sparklers.

"Over 35% of the injuries each year associated with fireworks have to do with sparklers," a police official said. "And unfortunately, the vast majority effected are 15 years or less."

Multiple New York City agencies, including the NYPD, FDNY and Sheriff, have seized illegal fireworks after following vehicles with fireworks purchased in Pennsylvania. At least eight people have been arrested.

Fire marshals arrested 35-year-old Matthew King and 22-year-old Rayval Singh for possession of more than $6,000 worth of illegal fireworks on Staten Island, and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea tweeted that a JFK task force intercepted a $30,000 shipment of illegal fireworks being smuggled into the city.

Police in Paterson, New Jersey, are also conducting a special operation targeting the use of illegal fireworks after receiving a number of complaints of excessive noise.

"It is hazardous," Mayor Andre Sayegh said. "So I want to assure residents that we are going to be taking action."

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