Fireworks complaints surge in Memphis ahead of Fourth of July

Fireworks complaints surge in Memphis ahead of Fourth of July

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It is illegal to fire off fireworks in Memphis without a permit. This year people seem to be doing it more. Complaints to Memphis Police are up more than 2,000 percent.

In Midtown’s Vollentine-Evergreen neighborhood, residents report nightly fireworks sounding off for more than a week.

“It’s been so strange. It’s every night as soon as the sun goes down,” said Casey Sigler, resident.

“It’s been pop, pop, pop, pop back in that direction,” said Mickey Spence, resident.

If they think they’re hearing more than previous years they are on to something. Memphis Police report a 2,875 percent increase in firework complaints compared to this week last year.

From June 18 to June 22 there were eight complaints in 2019 -- this year there have been more than 238. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said during the same time period last year there were four complaints compared to 69 this year.

“I can’t tell you if more people are setting off fireworks, but I can tell you our sales are through the roof,” said Larry Farnsworth, spokesperson with the National Fireworks Association.

Farnsworth said there are three things that may be contributing to the increase in fireworks sales. First, the Fourth is on a weekend, people have been inside because of the pandemic and are ready to celebrate, and public fireworks shows are being cancelled.

“I think people are choosing to celebrate with consumer fireworks at home this year,” Farnsworth said.

“If you’re lighting fireworks in Shelby County you’re breaking the law,” said Brent Perkins, Shelby County Fire’s Public Information Officer.

Right now it’s illegal to shoot fireworks in Shelby County, including Memphis. Similar rules are in place in other large cities, but it seems the increase in fireworks calls are being seen coast to coast. NBC reports a 700 percent increase in Chicago, a 2,300 increase in Boston and a nearly 20,000 increase in New York City.

Some residents thought the celebration of Juneteenth last week may have kicked off the fireworks, and they anticipate them to continue until the Fourth of July holiday.

“It actually increases after Fourth of July a little bit,” Perkins said.

“It hasn’t bothered me,” Spence said.

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