Fireworks Incidents Underscore Fourth of July Public Safety Concerns

PITTSBURGH, PA (July 3, 2020) -- As we head into the Independence Day weekend, last night kept the Fireworks Taskforce extremely busy with a total of 85 fireworks complaint calls across all six police zones.

Three of those calls proved to be another strong reminder of the dangers of fireworks in the City. 

At around 11 p.m. taskforce members warned a group of people shooting off fireworks from the baseball field at Horace Mann School on the 2800 block of Shadeland Avenue to stop and clean up their debris. About 40 minutes later the roof of the abandoned school was discovered to be on fire. 

Firefighters battled and put out the 2-alarm blaze that caused an estimated $50,000 to $60,000 damage. 

Another incident resulted in an injury. A firework was thrown into the gym at McNaugher School in the 2600 block of Maple Street during a dance class. One juvenile female received a minor burn to her foot.

Earlier in the day, a large brush fire on Rose Street in the Hill District was extinguished before it could spread to any structures or cause injuries. That fire was also believed to have been caused by fireworks.

These incidents are being investigated. There are no arrests at this time, but anyone with information is urged to call the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police at (412) 323-7800. 

State law prohibits the use of fireworks, even those that are legal, within 150 feet of any structure. Fireworks are also prohibited in all parks, any public space, and on private property without consent of the landowner. Anyone caught violating fireworks law is subject to a $100 fine and the possible seizure of their fireworks. 

The Fireworks Task Force would also like people to know that the release of sky lanterns is illegal.

"We at Public Safety know this Fourth of July weekend is not the kind Pittsburghers are used to. It's frustrating that we can't gather and celebrate with our usual, grand fireworks display that everyone can enjoy," Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said. "Many people will be tempted to put on their own displays, but I urge them to refrain and celebrate in other ways in order to stay safe during these challenging times."




Cara Cruz
Assistant Public Information Officer
Public Safety