SAN ANTONIO – Volunteers staffing the San Antonio Fire Department's fireworks hotline over the New Year's holiday answered about 1,000 calls, while many who took part in celebrations did so illegally.
The purchase, use and transport of fireworks within city limits is illegal and can result in a Class C misdemeanor charge that can carry a fine of up to $2,000.
People in San Antonio are urged, twice a year, on New Year's and Independence Day, to call 210-207-0202 if they see illegal fireworks activity.
Longtime South Side resident Joe Hernandez has never called the fireworks hotline, even though the remains of fireworks litter his street days later.
"I don't call because they don't show up," Hernandez said.
"We take calls from concerned citizens, and those calls that seem to be extreme in nature we pass over to our friends at San Antonio Police Department," fire department spokesman Woody Woodward said. "The hotline is helping, but it's certainly not a perfect solution."
San Antonio police determine which calls require responses. Officers then investigate and decide whether any citations need to be issued.
A video taken when pilot Michael Breshears and his girlfriend took to the skies on New Year's is a good indicator of how many people were using fireworks within city limits. Some believe that the holiday falling on a weekend contributed to increased use.
The fireworks hotline received about 300 calls more than on Fourth of July last year; however, only one structure fire was officially linked to fireworks.
"I think the best thing to do is to have more police cars running around all over, you know," Hernandez said.
Although Hernandez and others would like to see increased enforcement of the fireworks law, police officers were busy between midnight and 2 a.m. Sunday responding to eight shooting calls, according to a public information request.
Here's a look at the latest statistics from SAFD:
12/31/16 24 Hours 1/1/17 until 5 a.m.
Structure 7 2
Brush/Grass 8 7
Odor of Smoke 0 0
Other Fire 1 6
Smoke Investigation 4 1
Burns 2 0
Unauthorized Burn 16 2
Trash 6 5
Fireworks Injury 0 2