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Erie County DA warns public about potential charges for setting off illegal fireworks

Police departments across Western New York have received complaints from residents about fireworks being set off at all hours of the night.

The Erie County District Attorney's office is warning the public they could face charges if they set off illegal fireworks.

Police departments across Western New York have received complaints from residents about fireworks being set off at all hours of the night. District Attorney John Flynn says setting off fireworks is not only dangerous and disruptive, it's illegal.

If you are caught setting off illegal fireworks, these are potential charges you can face:

  • Unlawfully Dealing with Fireworks and Dangerous Fireworks: The sale of illegal fireworks (roman candles, bottle rockets, mines, pyrotechnics, etc.) is a Class “B” misdemeanor. Possession of these illegal fireworks is a violation.  
  • Disorderly Conduct: Intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof: making unreasonable noise. This charge is a violation. 
  • Reckless Endangerment in the Second Degree: Recklessly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another 
  • Section 293 of the Buffalo City Ordinance prohibits unreasonable noise.

Flynn told 2 On Your Side, "The gamut of possibilities as far as criminal liability goes from a violation all the way to a felony and that's what I want the public to understand."

Flynn wants to get the message out before the 4th of July, especially since this year most traditional fireworks shows in Western New York will be off-limits. 

"I'm fearful that because that is not going to happen, that those events are canceled now, that individuals in their own little neighborhoods on their own streets now are gonna say to themselves, 'Hey, let's have a neighborhood firework show,' and then someone's house is gonna get burned down, someone's gonna get hurt, you're gonna have dogs barking all across the neighborhood and you're gonna have chaos," he said.

Besides being a nuisance, the DA's office says fireworks can have a negative impact on pets, people and property. The sound from fireworks can also cause distress for individuals with PTSD.

"It's a serious quality of life issue," Flynn said.

North Tonawanda resident Julie Miller shares these concerns. 

"I don't think people need them to have fun," Miller said. "They can have fun in other ways and if they can understand the kind of trauma that it has on our wildlife, some people that suffer from PTSD and our pets." 

Miller added, "Everyone for the most part has pets of some sort and I definitely think it's something that we need to realize and be respectful of each other."

Miller even started a petition online to raise awareness about these concerns. 

"I just wanna help bring about some sort of change in the mentality of people who think it's okay when it's not," Miller said.

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