PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — The Fourth of July holiday brought several events with professional fireworks to the community, but also resulted in two different situations where fireworks caused danger, widespread panic and even injuries to people in the Panhandle.
A video began circulating during the holiday celebrations of a mass of fireworks exploding near the Panama City Beach area, and then officials were alerted to a separate incident of a man, who after lighting fireworks, lost part of his hand.
“There was a gentleman who [placed] a medical call who was using a butane lighter to light a firework and for some reason it exploded and he lost three fingers on one of his hands,” said Capt. David Baldwin with the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
Fireworks with highly explosive results, like mortars, are illegal in the state of Florida, but the government does allow fireworks for certain agricultural uses. However, many people still have the ability to obtain fireworks outside of state lines and utilize them once returning to Florida.
The use of fireworks in the Panama City and surrounding areas can lead to larger problems for the environment, like littering and waste left on the beaches, as well as high-risk situations for people who light the fireworks and those around them.
“When you have an illegal fireworks show that’s going on, and all of a sudden it erupts and everything catches fire, now unfortunately the poor, innocent person who just wanted to have a nice time on the beach could be a victim of severe burns, [or] death,” Baldwin said.
Law enforcement has the jurisdiction to confiscate any illegal fireworks, as well as place violators of the law under arrest.
Baldwin said if the use of illegal fireworks continues to cause bodily injuries, traumatic experiences and danger in the Panhandle, officers will have to enforce the laws more than they have had to in the past for the long-term safety of the public.
“Our suggestion is just don’t [use them],” Baldwin said. “It’s too dangerous for the people around you. Heed the state statute [about fireworks].”