Police on Long Island recalled a tragic incident from more than 35 years ago to remind residents to be careful and wary of fireworks as the Fourth of July holiday looms.
A series of explosions tore through the Grucci fireworks factory in Bellport, injuring 24 people and killing two on Saturday, Nov. 26, 1983.
According to a New York Times report on the day of the incident, the explosions could be heard from miles away and at least 100 nearby homes were damaged during the incident. Roofs were collapsed, windows were blown out, chimneys damaged and cars overturned.
The incident knocked out power to thousands of homes and send fragments of fireworks soaring through the air to nearby communities in Suffolk County.
New York State law only allows for the sale and use of a specific category of consumer fireworks known as Sparkling Devices.
Sparkling Devices are ground-based or handheld devices that produce a shower of colored sparks and or a colored flame, audible crackling or whistling noise and smoke, according to the New York State Homeland Security and Emergency Services.
The law limits the type, size, and construction of Sparkling Devices and requires that these devices must be hand-held or mounted on a base or spike and be limited in sizes that range from one to 500 grams of pyrotechnic composition.
“The Suffolk County Police Department responding to the Grucci Firework Explosion that killed two people and injured more than two dozen in November 1983,” the department posted on Twitter with a photo of the fallout. “It is important to remember that fireworks can be dangerous even for professionals.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, on Independence Day in a typical year, far more U.S. fires are reported than any other day, and fireworks account for two out of five of those fires, more than any other cause of fires.
“There is a reason why fireworks are illegal in New York State - to prevent needless serious injury and fires," Paul Martin, Chief of Inspections and Investigations for OFPC stated. "People must refrain from using fireworks, not just to avoid arrest, but to ensure everyone has a safe and accident-free holiday." Each year thousands of people nationwide are seriously injured as a result of playing with fireworks.
State Fire Administrator Bryant Stevens noted, “fireworks may appear fun and harmless, but unfortunately, all too often they cause serious injury. Every year, far too many people suffer life long injuries, and far too many fires are caused by the use of illegal fireworks - these are injuries and fires that can, and must be prevented."
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