People burned, property damaged as area fireworks violations surge over holiday weekend
MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas (KWTX) - Law enforcement in McLennan County was busier than usual during the Fourth of July holiday weekend this year, officials report.
"It was definitely non-stop," said Officer Garren Bynum, spokesman for the Waco Police Department.
With most fireworks shows around the area cancelled, it appeared many Central Texans took it upon themselves to provide pyrotechnic displays for their families, sometimes illegally.
"We did confiscate some fireworks," said Bynum.
He said Waco PD responded to 388 calls for fireworks violations from 5 p.m. July 3 through 7 a.m. July 6--that's more than a 35 percent increase from the same period last year when the agency responded to 284 calls.
Industry experts believe the number of calls are tied to the increase in consumer fireworks sales this year.
They were still tallying the totals Monday, but officials with American Fireworks, the largest retailer in Central Texas, say it looked like consumer sales this year would be up by about 50 percent compared to last year.
Some of the most serious fireworks-related calls in the county came from the West area.
Fireworks are believed to be the reason bales of hay caught fire on a ranch near Leroy before 10 p.m. Saturday.
The burnt bales were still smoldering Monday evening.
"They might be considered a small grade explosive, but they are still explosives that can cause damage to people as well as property," said Darryl Barton, Chief of Police for the City of West.
Barton said, like most incorporated cities, the use of fireworks is illegal in West city limits.
"If you choose to enjoy fireworks outside an incorporated city limit, you've got to use common sense," said Barton.
West PD responded to a serious fireworks call right outside of city limits on Heritage Pkwy Saturday.
Barton said a 28-year-old mother and her six-month-old baby had to be flown by helicopters to a burn center in the DFW Metroplex after the woman grabbed a mortar-type firework out of a dog's mouth.
"We also have to remember that these fireworks spook your pets and your neighbors pets, and in some situations they may even attack that fireworks, and once that happens, the result can divert the fireworks and damage innocent by standards," said Barton.
The lit firework went off in the direction of the garage, hitting the baby in the face, he said.
The child had second-degree burns to the head, Barton said, and the mother burned her hands and lost hearing in one of her ears.
Their conditions were unknown Monday night.
“It’s important that you don’t take chances with your family, with yourself, and with your property,” said Barton.
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