WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The Wichita Fire Department says its crews handed out 88 citations for illegal fireworks over the 4th of July weekend. Most of those citations, 55 of them, were on Sunday, July 4.
There were 13 more citations issued this year than in 2020. The citation carries a $250 penalty and court costs.
Battalion Chief Jose Ocadiz said the fire department is still collecting data on injuries and trash and dumpster fires. Still, he was able to say there were three structure fires caused by fireworks this year, compared to seven structure fires last year.
One of this year’s fires was because of improper discarding of fireworks. Another was because a firework was shot into a detached garage. The third fire started when a spark from a firework landed on a plastic cooler next to a house. The fire spread up the outside wall and into the attic. There were no injuries from the fires, but a cat died in one of the fires.
Ocadiz says the 10 teams assigned to patrol for illegal fireworks focused on the areas they got complaints about last year.
He said that an elevated view of the fireworks show downtown gives a good idea of how many illegal fireworks were going off in Wichita. The maximum height that fireworks can shoot in Wichita is six feet.
In west Wichita, the main hot spot was in neighborhoods along 21st Street, between Hoover and Maize Road. In east Wichita, there were a bunch of smaller hot spots.
The most common illegal fireworks that the teams confiscated were mortars and artillery shells. Ocadiz added that there will always be people upset about having their fireworks confiscated, but this year’s confrontations were not as bad because the police department helped de-escalate the conflicts.
Sedgwick County activates a non-emergency line to help handle calls over the holiday. This year, the line was open from July 1-July 5, from 6 p.m.-3 a.m.
Elora Forshee, director of emergency communications for the county, said 1,184 people called the non-emergency line this year, compared to 1,075 last year.
She said that helped 911 dispatchers focus on the 1,999 emergency calls they answered on July 4. To put that in perspective, Forshee says on the final Saturday of June, dispatchers got 1,600 emergency calls.