Calls to city's fireworks hotline increase this July 4th weekend

SAPD responded to 950 calls, few minor injuries reported

SAN ANTONIO – Fireworks rained down on neighborhoods across the city last weekend as revelers celebrated Independence Day. But some residents didn't appreciate the illegal backyard displays.

The city's police and fire departments reported Monday they answered nearly 1,000 reports of fireworks violations on the Fourth of July alone.

"From 8 p.m. July 4 until 8 a.m. on July 5, we had about 950 calls for service related to fireworks disturbances," San Antonio Police Department Sgt. Javier Salazar said.

Salazar said 558 of those calls came from a hotline staffed by the San Antonio Fire Department, which also responded to 26 calls between Saturday and Sunday that may have been fireworks related, including five brush/grass fire calls, two structure fires and six trash fire calls.

Even with all of those calls, SAPD hasn't found any cases where the calls led to citations or arrests.

"At this point, we have no indications that there were any arrests or citations issued," Salazar said. "Those numbers are still coming in over the next couple days, so we don't have a true picture of what it looks like."

Compared to previous Fourth of July weekends, calls to the hotline were up.

Last year, 250 calls were logged, and in 2013, there were 357 calls, resulting in 12 citations and 15 confiscations.

Salazar believed the higher numbers were connected to the lack of burn bans in effect this year.

"That may have contributed to some of the confusion of people thinking it's OK for us to pop fireworks in the city," Salazar said. "That's not the case. It is still illegal. You are running the risk of being cited or arrested if an officer catches you in the process of discharging fireworks."

While some citizens may be frustrated with the lack of citations, Salazar said officers do respond to these calls, but they have to actually witness the violation to write a ticket.

"Many times, people will see a patrol car coming down the street, and they'll come into compliance. They'll go inside the house, and it's not something the officer witnesses," Salazar said. "We understand that it's frustrating, but keep calling us, that's what we're here for. Just understand that we are responding to other calls where someone may be injured, or there may be property damage, or something actually occurring that takes a higher precedence than a fireworks-related call. But we will respond to them."

There were some injuries related to fireworks this weekend.

According to University Hospital, doctors treated six juveniles under the age of 15 for burns caused by fireworks, including three hand injuries and three eye injuries.

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