Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced Thursday that he will be sending cease and desist letters to popular online and mobile firework shops and will be launching a public awareness campaign on the harm fireworks can do, in an effort to curb illegal use.
The announcement comes a little over a week before July 4, and as people across Southern California and the country have reported an increase in illegal firework displays.
The Los Angeles Police Department has seen 2 1/2 times the amount of radio calls involving illegal fireworks this year, sources told KTLA earlier this week.
“Almost every corner of L.A. is facing what seems like an enormous increase in illegal fireworks activity when so many of us are already on edge because of the virus,” Feuer said in a statement.
Feuer said setting off illegal fireworks is both dangerous and disruptive.
“Between the very real risk of injuries and the unacceptable impact on veterans with PTSD, kids with special needs and our pets, the nightly onslaught of illegal fireworks we’re experiencing needs to stop.”
Animal advocates also have spoken out against the displays.
“Loud noises like fireworks are no fun for animals,” said Brenda Barnette, general manager for Los Angeles Animal Services. “A scared dog or cat can quickly slip through an open door or a tiny break in the fence and get lost.”
She added that fireworks can cause burns or can be fatal if ingested.
Officials said that setting off fireworks randomly weeks ahead of Independence Day can also be unsettling for veterans and families with children who have special needs.
Though it is unclear what has prompted the increase in sparklers this year, one expert offered his theory.
“It’s a combination of people getting out, being anxious and having this pent-up energy, and then right around the corner is a quintessential firework holiday,” Bill Weimer, the vice president and general counsel at leading U.S. fireworks retailer Phantom Fireworks, told CNN. “Put the two together, consider the fact that there won’t be a lot of fireworks, and suddenly, you have a formula that means people are buying more and more fireworks, and buying them earlier.”
Los Angeles residents can file complaints about illegal firework use here.
LAPD officials also accept illegal fireworks without penalty and residents can call 877-275-5273 for guidance.