Fireworks causing alarm in Denver as complaints skyrocket

There’s been an explosive jump in reports of illegal fireworks in Denver and authorities say they are concerned about the noisy, and potentially dangerous, spike.

Since June 15 through Sunday, the city has fielded 750 firework calls with Sunday alone prompting 317 calls, according to the Denver Police Department. The same seven-day period in 2017 prompted 245 calls for service regarding illegal fireworks.

“When you look at those stats, wow,” said Kurt Barnes, a police spokesman. “It’s pretty significant.”

— Denver Police Dept. (@DenverPolice) June 22, 2020

People suffering from PTSD, owners of pets, and residents looking for peace and quiet, are among those who are negatively impacted by illegal fireworks, Barnes said. Authorities and first responders are also concerned about fire safety issues and injuries involving fireworks.

Setting off fireworks in Denver is punishable by up to a $999 fine and up to a year in jail. “If you have to light it or ignite it, it’s illegal,” according to a Fireworks Are Illegal poster.

“We do recognize the annoyance and dangers of illegal fireworks,” police said on Monday.

Setting off illegal fireworks in Denver is punishable by up to a $999 fine and up to a year in jail.

Police also said in a statement that:

  • Officers will confiscate illegal fireworks.
  • Complainants must sign an order for officers to cite someone who is using fireworks.
  • Reporting fireworks on social media is discouraged as police do not respond to such posts. 
  • Residents can report fireworks by calling 720-913-2059.

Marcus Schulzke, who lives in the College View neighborhood off of South Federal Boulevard and West Evans Avenue, said fireworks started in area back in late February and they’ve recently increased in frequency and duration.

“It’s definitely getting worse,” Schulzke said.

Fireworks are going past midnight, into the early morning hours, and Schulzke described nearby Sunday night blasts as “artillery shells.”

Schulzke and his wife, Amanda Carroll, have reached out to local officials, including the office of City Councilman Jolon Clark and District 4 Police Commander Mark Fleecs, about the ongoing issue. They’ve also called the fireworks hotline and the police non-emergency line to make reports.

So far, city officials have been dismissive of the couple’s reports, Schulzke said.

“The police made it clear during the calls that they don’t intend to respond to complaints,” Schulzke said.

Meanwhile, the couple are having a difficult time getting a full night’s rest because of fireworks.

Schulzke said: “We can’t sleep, even with ear plugs in.”

Denver police, the fire department and other city officials are having a 10 a.m. Wednesday news conference on fireworks and plans to deal with the situation.

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