Delaware state Fire marshal patch

Mirroring a national trend, Delaware fire officials said the use of illegal fireworks is blowing up.

"We're getting hundreds of calls, complaints actually, from residents of Delaware complaining about the fireworks," said Delaware State Fire Marshals' Office spokesman Mike Chionchio. "I've gotten reports since early April.

"They continue to go off at all times of the day and night. [We've gotten] several complaints that they're occurring after midnight."

In Delaware only sparklers and ground-based fireworks are legal and that's only for four days a year - July 4th, New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, and one day during the Diwali holiday in November.

Chionchio said these aren't small fireworks that are being lit off, they are professional grade and shouldn't be in the hands of amateurs for fear they may blow some fingers off, or worse.

"We're talking about fireworks that shoot up into the air and launch from somebody's house or somebody's backyard and end up five blocks down the street," said Chionchio.

"You're getting these cannons that are set up in somebody's backyard or in a park or somewhere that fire twenty or twenty-five mortars up into the air.

"You lose sight of the firework and then 3 o'clock in the morning your neighbor's house is on fire with them sleeping inside."

Chionchio said a house fire earlier this month in Newark has been blamed on fireworks.

"A woman was in her house and all of a sudden started to smell smoke and went outside and saw the side of her house on fire from someone setting off fireworks in the neighborhood."

In Delaware in 2019, there were seven fires and two injuries blamed on fireworks, and the year before there were thirteen fires and two injuries.

Chionchio said the fireworks are readily available for retail sale especially just over the state line in Pennsylvania.

Possession of illegal fireworks can result in just a fine, but penalties can escalate to a felony if a fire is caused or injuries are sustained.

Chionchio said there are also counterfeit fireworks that are more like explosives and even more dangerous.

He said they're not looking to prosecute people, they just want to educate them about the dangers.

TrafficWatch & News Reporter for WDEL/WSTW 1989 - 1993 and back again for Round Two starting in February, 2015 after spending a decade in Chicago and another six years in Boston.