NYC Tries to Curb Rise in Illegal Fireworks, Track Down Source

New York City residents made more than 1,700 fireworks-related complaints in the first weeks of June; only 21 were registered during the same time last year

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The city that never sleeps has taken a literal approach to its nickname with nearly three weeks nonstop nightly fireworks. New York City leaders want to know who's responsible and how the fireworks are getting into the city.

There have already been more than 1,700 fireworks-related complaints to the city’s noise complaint hotline through the first half of June. Usually, there are just a few dozen such complaints during that time period, with only 21 registered during this time in 2019.

Illicit bursts of fireworks from street corners and rooftops aren’t uncommon in the city’s neighborhoods in the days before the Fourth of July, but the past few weeks has seen an extraordinary surge in such displays.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Council Member Robert Cornegy say a handful of Brooklyn neighborhoods lead the five boroughs in the number of complaints in recent months - those neighborhoods are Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Flatbush, they say.

Adams and Cornegy want the City to deploy additional resources to crackdown on the nightly display. On Sunday afternoon, Adams urged people not to turn calling 911 for every nuisance in the city. The pair is asking the City to use Cure Violence groups to respond to fireworks complaints. Law enforcement, they say, must investigate the source of the fireworks.

NBC New York's Ray Villeda reports.

While the short sparklers that parents let kids twirl until they quickly flame out can be purchased, the kind of fireworks that create the booming blasts in Brooklyn can’t be sold legally in New York.

An NYPD spokesperson stressed that fireworks are illegal in New York City and urged people to report violations involving them. Brooklyn resident Brittany Sturrett hasn’t done that, though she said the noise is a nuisance.

“They are a block from my house,” she said. “I see them from my window and it freaks out my dog.”

Longtime neighbors say the fireworks are a form of expression, especially during this time of year and this moment in New York City history, and it's something done for fun.

It's not just in Brooklyn, either. Bronx residents have noticed an uptick as well, and an 18-year-old was hit in the chest with one Tuesday night. In Fordham Heights, tubes of projectiles and exploded fireworks could be seen littered along the street, with some neighbors worried about their safety.

"They need to send cops here to monitor this block, it's really getting out of hand," said a Fordham resident who identified herself as Carmen. "The other day, the smell of those firecrackers was in my wind. Smelling that in my room, it's ridiculous."

The fireworks aren't limited to New York. They can be heard further to the north in Westchester County, and are ringing out more than normal in locations throughout the Northeast. Boston, Baltimore, Hartford, Connecticut and Syracuse, New York are among the cities where residents have noticed a similar phenomenon.

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