AP NEWS

Fireworks calls shoot up

July 6, 2018 GMT

The sky lit up Wednesday night as Odessans around the city and county celebrated the Fourth of July, but as the fireworks went up, so did the amount of calls to Odessa police.

Odessa Police Department Spokesman Cpl. Steve LeSueur said OPD responded to a total of 336 calls Wednesday night, including 163 calls about fireworks in the city limits, higher than the 138 fireworks calls OPD received on the last Fourth of July.

LeSueur said it was unclear why there were more calls received this year, but that it may have to do with more people being in town. As Independence Day was on a Wednesday this year, LeSueur said they also received firework calls earlier in the week, but didn’t have an exact total number.

“It’s been a few every day,” LeSueur said. “We have been responding since probably last Thursday or Friday.”

It is illegal for any person to use, set off or explode any fireworks within city limits, city ordinance states. The OPD, as they do every year, conducts special patrols during the Fourth of July season to ensure the ordinance is enforced.

“Our goal isn’t to issue as many citations,” LeSueur said. “Our goal is just for everyone to be safe.”

In addition to fireworks calls, OPD also made 8 DWI arrests in total on Tuesday and Wednesday night, and responded to about 22 crashes, which LeSueur said was about average.

OPD also responded to multiple other calls, including six shots fired calls, one loud party call, and one loud noise call.

Odessa Fire Rescue was also hard at work during the holiday. City of Odessa Spokesperson Andrea Goodson said OFR responded to three structure fires, two of which were determined to be caused by fireworks, and one in which the cause is still under investigation. OFR also responded to numerous grassfires.

In Ector County, deputies at the Ector County Sheriff’s Office responded to 26 fireworks-related incidents, ECSO spokesman Gary Duesler said, which he said is about the normal number every year, and said there were no official reports written about any incident.

“The thing is, we’ll get out there and by the time we get out there, they’re already gone,” Duesler said. “We respond because you don’t know whether it’s fireworks or shots fired, unless they’re really specific on the phone.”

LeSueur said officers would continue to patrol for fireworks use in the city for the rest of the week.

“It’s just so unique because it’s during the middle of the week, so a lot of people began their celebrations last weekend, and some are going to continue them through this coming weekend,” LeSueur said.