Fire Chief Braces for More Fireworks Fires

Chief Jenkerson says "professional-grade" fireworks are on the streets

Kevin Killeen
July 05, 2018 - 4:56 pm

Kevin Killeen/KMOX

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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Something is happening in the world of consumer fireworks that has St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson worried.

They're getting more powerful.

After putting out 83 fires on the 4th of July -- with most of them blamed on fireworks -- Jenkerson says he's noticed a trend in the type of fireworks detonating across the city.

"There is a big difference in fireworks this year," the chief says. "These weren't consumer bottle rockets, firecrackers and fountains you see in the street. These were what I consider to be professional-grade fireworks."

Jenkerson says the sound of the blast is louder, the shower of sparks wider, and they're exploding over residential areas causing fires.

"Last year, I lost a firefighter due to a fire in a building that was started by fireworks," Jenkerson said.

So far this week, he says one firefighter suffered heat exhaustion fighting a fire blamed of fireworks, and another suffered minor injuries when a plaster ceiling fell on his helmet.

That fire, which destroyed a deli in the 4700 block of Macklind Avenue overnight, may have been caused by fireworks, the chief said. But the final cause remains under investigation.

The chief is reminding residents that fireworks are illegal in the city, but he's not aware of any effort by the police and Circuit Attorney to prosecute violators.

Looking ahead to the weekend, the chief is warning the number of fires could get worse, because fireworks are going on sale, and people may still be in the mood to extend their 4th of July celebrations.