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At least 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks seized in Denver amid spike in firework complaints

Posted at 1:13 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-25 01:55:31-04

DENVER — Police in Denver confiscated more than 2,000 pounds of illegal fireworks Tuesday as the city experiences a record-number of calls for service regarding illegal firework shows.

The suspect, identified as 31-year-old Louis Maestas, was driving a box truck when he was stopped by police in the area West Alameda Avenue and South Eliot Street, police said.

After Maestas gave his consent for police to search his vehicle, officers discovered an estimated 2,000-3,000 pounds (including packaging) of illegal, commercial-grade fireworks, according to police.

The fireworks were seized, the truck impounded and Maestas was cited for possession of illegal fireworks and the illegal transportation of hazardous materials without license or placarding.

The Denver bomb squad was called out to the scene to assist in the seizure of the fireworks, police said.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Denver police said 2020 is shaping up to be a record-year as far the number of firework complaints.

Police Commander Mark Fleece, who oversees the southwest area of Denver, said they have made at least four arrests related to the sale and distribution of illegal fireworks. He said his area of jurisdiction has seen 750 fireworks complaint calls since Sunday, compared to just 69 for the same time period last year.

During Wednesday’s briefing, Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley stressed the illegal firework shows not only disturb neighbors, but can spark fires and seriously injure people. Pixley said in 2018, Denver saw 9,000 fireworks-related injuries and more than 50% of those were to children under the age of 18.

Wednesday's briefing was concluded with a demonstration performed by the Denver Fire Department. Firefighters placed a commercial-grade firework on a watermelon and ignited it. The watermelon exploded, ostensibly demonstrating the dangers of illegal fireworks.

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Another haul of illegal fireworks was sized not too far from the first location, in the area of S. Wolcott Court and and W. Florida Avenue, police said in a tweet.

A man was arrested for investigation of multiple felonies.