MINEOLA, Long Island (WABC) -- The annual fireworks are what so many look forward to every Fourth of July, especially after a year in which many Independence Day celebrations were canceled.
But on Wednesday, authorities here in Nassau County said that unfortunately, illegal fireworks celebrations have already begun -- with nearly 700 calls to police already.
"And the firework calls just keep coming," Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. "You just stand out on your front porch and hear it going off. "We have a lot of cops that are out there. We're putting extensive resources out there."
The pandemic caused a spike in personal celebration last year, with chaotic scenes playing out more like a battlefield than a party.
Officials also demonstrated the explosion that can happen if illegal fireworks are left just laying around.
"Could you imagine that going off in your basement or your garage, or your attic, or in your house?" said Detective Lieutenant Ken Stigaro, with the Nassau Arson and Bomb Squad.
It's the sort of unexpected disaster that left a young man in Levittown severely injured last year, with a rather graphic demonstration of a watermelon exploding.
"Burns the skin," Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. "It's really harmful and potentially deadly."
Another real threat, especially to children, is sparklers.
"The sparkler itself burns at almost 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit," Stigaro said. "Would you hand a pot of boiling water to a kid?"
Authorities are pleading with the public to avoid these colorful commercial packages people order from out of state, and anyone who is caught could face a charge as severe as a Class D felony and hefty fines.
The hope now is that these types of images will convince people to leave the danger to the professionals.
Authorities are hoping the public can be their best ally and phone in tips beforehand, like while illegal fireworks are being set up.
Residents can call 911 or email tips about illegal sale of fireworks to firstname.lastname@example.org.
While this year's nearly 700 calls are less than last year, the concern is being proactive.
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