FORT WORTH -- Cell phone video taken in Dallas captured a fireworks show that was almost as impressive as the professionals. But it was not nearly as safe.

It was shot in Oak Cliff, where an amateur show was illegally set off. It was one of hundreds, possibly thousands, of rogue displays set off across North Texas on July 4.

Remnants of a similar illegal display were evident in the parking lot of east Fort Worth's Caville Place housing complex. There were pieces of charred furniture, singed grass, and torn up wrappers all over the place.

"Fireworks are illegal to even possess in the City of Fort Worth," said Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman Tim Hardeman. "They're illegal within 5,000 feet of the city limits, too."

Yet people continue to break that law.

When a city firefighter stepped out of his truck to hose down burning grass at Caville Place, people shot a bottle rocket at him. He went to the hospital with minor burns and hearing loss. It was minor, but could've been major, Hardeman said.

"Residents, for what whatever reason, think it's a fun thing to do, but they need to understand -- people can get hurt," he said. "We're very grateful our firefighters avoided serious injury, but if that thing had hit him the right way, it could've taken an eye out, seriously damaged his hearing, or caused severe burns."

Hardeman said things like this occur almost every year.

"It's happened to me in my career," he said.

Fort Worth emergency personnel responded to an abnormally-high number of calls Thursday night. They battled more than 100 brush fires some of which were related to fireworks and they received more than 900 complaints about illegal fireworks.

Fort Worth was not alone.

At one point, Johnson County was so busy they sent out a tweet saying emergency services had been maxed out.

Dallas Fire-Rescue didn't have a count of the illegal fireworks calls they on the Fourth, but seven residents received tickets and firefighters collected more than 350 pounds of illegal fireworks. Firefighters also responded to 24 grass fires. They say about one-fourth of them were linked to fireworks.

In southern Tarrant County, firefighters saved several homes near Rendon from a grass fire believed to be fireworks-related.

"We looked out, and the field was smoking and the trees just started bursting up in flames," said Janelle Bevars, who watched the flames inch closer and closer to her home. "What was amazing was, as firefighters were here putting out the fire, right on the other streets, people were still lighting off fireworks, continuing to celebrate the fourth," she said. "Don't do it!"

Hardeman said Fort Worth's special fireworks patrols will continue through the weekend. That means teams of firefighters and fire marshals will be stationed in neighborhoods to more easily respond to 911 complaint calls, or to investigate anything they see or hear on their own.

"It's gonna be a long weekend," he said.


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