The 4th of July is traditionally a day spent celebrating the United States of America’s independence with barbecues, trips to the beach and fireworks. But some homeowners in Indiana found that their homes and yards were damaged by stray fireworks from residential displays.
Susan Moore lives on Leer St. in South Bend; she received a frantic phone call from a friend informing her that a large group of neighbors were setting off fireworks in her driveway and the street in front of her house.
“I was worried sick they were going to catch my house on fire,” said Moore, “I have fireworks on my roof…they were going up there and bouncing off my house.”
As Moore quickly drove back home, her friends living across the street sat outside with hoses in case one of the firecrackers started a blaze.
“I grew up responsible and if we ever did fireworks we did fountains or something that didn’t leave our property. We always had a five gallon bucket of water and hoses,” Moore explained. She said her neighbor’s so-called “reckless” fireworks crossed the line.
One sky rocket firework did in fact lodge into the siding of Moore’s home—siding she said she recently spent a great deal of money replacing.
Other damage included dented gutters, multiple burns on Moore’s new driveway and debris scattered throughout Moore’s yard. It may not sound like much, but for a person who takes as much pride in her house as Moore does, it’s more than noticeable.
Moore’s next door neighbor, Jeremy Stevens, was struck in the head by one of the fireworks. Stevens was grilling in his backyard and said there was a strong smell of sulfur and lots of debris falling from the sky.
“You know it’s the 4th of July, kids are going to light fireworks, but the parents should have it under control,” Stevens explained.
He now has to clean up the mess of paper and plastic from the exploded fireworks.
Friday night Moore called police for assistance.
In Indiana it is illegal to set off fireworks in public spaces, including streets. It’s also illegal to set off fireworks on a person’s property without their consent.
First time offenders face up to a $500 fine, while second time offenders face up to 60 days in jail and a similar fine.
Moore said she was disappointed with South Bend Police Department’s response. According to Moore, the police officer told her that he couldn’t do much unless he saw someone actively lighting a firework in the street or on her property. She had the option of pressing charges should sufficient evidence be found, but the officer warned her that the misdemeanor could be dropped before it made it to the prosecutor’s office.
Moore worries that because the homes on her street are so close together there is a fire hazard with large residential displays and wants there to be greater enforcement of the law on the books.
South Bend Police told NewsCenter 16 there were no significant reports of fireworks related damage. Most people followed the curfew for fireworks as well as the regulations surrounding where they could be set off.