E.V. police report many complaints, few fireworks-related problems - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

E.V. police report many complaints, few fireworks-related problems

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Posted: Tuesday, July 5, 2011 4:09 pm | Updated: 12:41 am, Thu Jul 14, 2011.

With a greater concern of residents shooting off fireworks in the aftermath of three devastating wildfires throughout Arizona, East Valley police departments responded to a high volume of complaints, but any damage caused by July 4 revelers appears to be minimal.

By all accounts from police and emergency agencies throughout the East Valley, a handful of minor incidents sparked in backyards were quickly contained during the holiday weekend.

Of the four large East Valley municipalities, only Mesa and Gilbert allow personal use of fireworks.

Although the state allowed sparklers that burn on the ground to be sold this year, a number of cities such as Chandler and Tempe banned their use, causing three police departments to field nearly 300 calls.

From Friday through Tuesday morning, Chandler police responded to 97 calls, but made no arrests and issued no citations, according to Sgt. Joe Favazzo, a Chandler police spokesman.

By the time police respond to a complaint of someone shooting off fireworks into the night it’s hard to determine who had the fireworks in their possession, Favazzo said.

“We didn’t issue any citations, didn’t make any arrests and made a couple of verbal warnings,” Favazzo said. “This was real fresh in the way we checked complaints out this year. The number of complaints were significantly less last year.”

In Gilbert, a more rural area that allowed fireworks, police received more than 60 complaints, but responded to 33 of them from 9:30 a.m. Monday to 11:41 p.m. that evening, according to Sgt. William Balafas, a Chandler police spokesman.

The bulk of those calls, 25, came in from 12:25 a.m. Monday to 10:41 p.m. that evening, according to Sgt. William Balafas, a Gilbert police spokesman.

“We were unable to locate the majority of them,” Balafas said. “We would cite people if we could catch them, but by the time officers arrive, the fireworks already have gone off, and you can’t find out what happened.”

Mike Connor, a Gilbert fire spokesman, said Tuesday that the department was not informed of any major incidents, and no injuries or damage were reported.

Mesa reported no major incidents in connection with fireworks.

In Tempe, officers responded to 63 fireworks calls, but “it was a pretty good year,” said spokesman Sgt. Steve Carbajal. “We worked pretty hard with the fire department to prepare for the Fourth of July, and we’re very pleased there were no major incidents related to fireworks.”

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6533 or msakal@evtrib.com

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