ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The Fourth of July was the state’s first major holiday since fully reopening, but first responders say some celebrations got out of hand, with hundreds of calls for illegal fireworks popping off. If you were in the metro the night of July 4, you likely heard the ear-splitting whistles and pops of illegal fireworks well into the early hours of Monday morning. Local officials say they got tons of noise complaints and reports throughout the night.
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“There’s a whole handful of illegal fireworks that the Bernalillo County Commission just banned recently and made a statement on, and we had posted all of that to our social media, everyone is aware of which fireworks are illegal and which ones are not,” said Jayme Fuller with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m new to Albuquerque so I haven’t really ever experienced this many fireworks in a central location or in my neighborhood. It is very loud. A lot of people, my neighbors shot off, and was that gunshots or fireworks?”
With the state under a severe drought, some say it’s concerning that so many people were setting off illegal fireworks. Albuquerque Fire Rescue had limited crews to respond to these, in addition to handling other emergencies like structure fires or medical calls.
“It is always a little bit concerning because we encourage folks to be mindful of the drought and how dry it is outside,” said Lt. Tom Ruiz with AFR. “There’s only so much we can do in terms of unit resources. Our primary concern is responding to those calls that come in as 911 calls.”
Just within the City of Albuquerque, AFR responded to 368 calls related to fireworks, including 21 outside fires, one small structure fire and four brush fires. AFR crews spent much of the holiday patrolling open space areas like the Bosque, West Mesa and the Foothills while looking for fireworks. Luckily, they say there were no significant open space fires overnight.
BCSO responded to 146 calls for illegal fireworks within the county. Locals say while the fireworks were a beautiful sight, they were also a nuisance when it comes to noise.
“There were fireworks all over the city and it was cool, I loved it, but I hated that my dogs were freaked out. It was loud. It settled down kind of early though,” said local Liz Pfeffer. “They were terrified. So then I imagine all the people who were also terrified of it. I’m really mixed about the whole thing. I love them but I hate that they freak people out and freak dogs out.”
The city’s 311 dispatch also got plenty of illegal fireworks calls in all corners of the city. While we haven’t received an official number from the city, 311’s online maps show at least 1,300 reports since Sunday afternoon.
AFR says this was a pretty typical Fourth of July, despite how busy their crews were. They say they only responded to a couple more calls last year. Authorities are asking anyone in city limits to report illegal fireworks to 311 if they continue Monday night. People outside of the limits in Bernalillo County can call 505-798-7000 and those in Rio Rancho can call 505-891-7226.