CLEVELAND - Cleveland emergency officials are reminding about the dangers of backyard fireworks ahead of the Fourth of July holiday after a bottle rocket was blamed for sparking a fire at a home Thursday.
Homeowner Fran Ganda said she was awoken by neighbors shooting off fireworks near her Liberty Avenue home around 2 a.m., moments before her garage started burning.
Investigators confirmed Monday the fire was caused by a firework.
Cleveland Fire Lieutenant Mike Norman said the Fourth of July is typically the division's busiest day for fire calls. He encouraged people to leave fireworks to professionals.
"We'll have a number of house fires that can be caused directly by fireworks, so it's a really dangerous thing to play with," Norman said.
The National Fire Protection Association said that nearly half of fires reported on the Fourth of July are sparked by fireworks.
Injuries from fireworks are another concern. Each year about 10,000 burns or blast injuries are reported nationwide due to people setting off their own fireworks around the Fourth.
"It's explosives that you're playing with," Norman said.
In the City of Cleveland, setting off backyard fireworks is a fourth degree misdemeanor, according to police.
"You can get arrested, and at the very least your fireworks will get confiscated, so save yourself the trouble; there are fireworks displays that are safe and professionally done," said Cleveland Police spokesperson Sgt. Jennifer Ciaccia.
Ganda also made a personal plea after seeing firsthand the damage caused by fireworks.
"Please, please, if you want to see fireworks go where they're being set off by people who know what they're doing," she said. "Don't let this happen to someone else."
Cleveland's professional fireworks display, Light up the Lake, will launch from the Port of Cleveland Thursday night, with viewing available throughout the Flats and from Edgewater Park.