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Suffolk officials demonstrate danger of fireworks

Emergency responders showed the perils by blowing up a shed using 30 boxes of seized fireworks, firecrackers and mortars. Leave the dazzling display to the professionals, officials say.

On Tuesday, July 3, 2018, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart reminded the public of the dangers of using fireworks and urged everyone to celebrate responsibly during the July Fourth holiday. (Credit: James Carbone)

The names are as bizarre as the products are dangerous.

Man's Best Friend. Zombie Hunter. Be Cocky (featuring an image of a grimacing rooster).

The fireworks on display Tuesday by the Suffolk County Police Department featured pictures of demons, scary clowns and even a friendly-looking puppy.

But county and law enforcement officials warned that these fireworks are anything but kid friendly and should be handled only by professionals.

To demonstrate the dangers of fireworks Tuesday, emergency responders blew up a shed using 30 boxes of fireworks, firecrackers and mortars seized last month from a storage locker in Medford.

The raid, which uncovered two truckloads of fireworks weighing about 15,000 pounds, led to the arrest of a Shirley man on charges of illegal storage of explosives and unlawfully dealing with fireworks and dangerous fireworks.

Tuesday's explosion, which was monitored by the bomb squad and area fighters, lasted more than 90 seconds, sending a cloud of smoke and dust spilling across a county parking lot in Shirley.

"Fireworks are great way to celebrate our Independence Day," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said at a news conference at Smith Point County Park. "Celebrate the Fourth of July holiday, but be smart and be safe."

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported eight fireworks-related deaths in 2017, with victims ranging in age from four to 57. Fireworks also led to about 12,900 emergency room visits nationwide — about two-thirds occurring around the July Fourth holiday, the commission said.

In Suffolk last year, six people suffered fireworks-related injuries, including a Fort Salonga man who had his fingers amputated after fireworks exploded in his hand, said Suffolk police Deputy Insp. Donald Raber. A man also blew off several fingers and sustained serious burns in a fireworks accident in Uniondale last year, police said.

Raber also warned about the dangers of sparklers, which are prohibited in both Suffolk and Nassau counties. 

"Sparklers can burn at over 2,000 degrees," he said, leading potentially to second-degree burns to the fingers and face. 

Long Islanders caught using a sparkler face a fine of up to $500. Anyone selling the devices could face 15 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. 

Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart also announced that law enforcement officials would be increasing patrols and sobriety checkpoints on the roads and area waterways through the weekend. Suffolk police arrested 15 people last year on DWI charges from July 3, a Monday, through July 5, a Wednesday.

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