Baltimore City leaders warned residents ahead of the Fourth of July weekend that igniting fireworks or sparklers is illegal — and asked people to report to police where they’re being stored, sold or set off.
While Baltimore’s annual Independence Day fireworks celebration is canceled due to concerns of spreading COVID-19, police in recent weeks have received numerous complaints of fireworks being set off around the city.
Police Commissioner Michael Harrison warned that officers will be searching for illegal fireworks and for those setting them off, he said during a Thursday news conference.
“We have a robust deployment strategy for this weekend to make sure we are highly visible and highly engaged covering all parts of the city to make sure we have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July weekend,” Harrison said.
Fireworks can cause fires and serious injuries, anxiety, stress and loss of sleep to neighbors and pets, the commissioner said.
Consumer fireworks remain banned in much of Maryland, including in Baltimore City and Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, as well as in the town of Bel Air and in Ocean City. Baltimore County requires a permit for a private display of fireworks, according to the county website.
Because of the relatively tight restrictions, some consumers have traveled just over the state line to Pennsylvania, where retailers sell many pyrotechnic products to those without specialized permits or licenses.
A spokeswoman for Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said in June that the office has never prosecuted fireworks violations, even before the pandemic.
Baltimore Fire Chief Roman Clark recommended safe alternatives to residents wishing to celebrate the holiday, including glow sticks, noisemaker and confetti-filled balloons. He also suggested neighbors set up a projector outside to display virtual fireworks shows.
“I personally would have never imagined a Fourth of July without fireworks, yet, unfortunately, here we are,” Clark said. “So please remember to celebrate safely and legally.”
Anyone with information about fireworks use in the city is asked to call police or leave an anonymous tip with 1-866-7LOCKUP.
Baltimore Sun reporter Hallie Miller contributed to this article.