Mortar Shells, Sparklers: SF Fire Shows How Even Small Fireworks Can Be Dangerous

Regardless of what kind of fireworks you are lighting off this 4th of July, whether it be firecrackers, bottle rockets or mortar shells, there are risks involved. Sioux Falls Fire Rescue wanted to prove it. KDLT’s Jill Johnson takes us out to the Sioux Empire Fairgrounds where crews put on a little show of their own.

“Firecrackers would not be legal, bottle rockets would not be legal,” said Rod Lantis with Lantis Fireworks.

When it comes to fireworks, not many in this box are legal to light off in city limits.

Lantis said holding a firework, “The general public would know this as a repeater. It’s a one light thing with multiple shots, it’s going to shoot up in the air. It’s going to have noise and color. That would not be legal.”

But Sioux Falls Fire Rescue says there’s a reason for that.

“The fireworks that launch, you can’t control where they go, you can’t control where they come down,” said Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Mike Top.

They used a mortar shell that can be bought at any fireworks stand and this watermelon as an example.

“If there’s a dud you look down in the tube to see what’s going on and then it goes off.” Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Inspector Tyler Tjeerdsma said, “It goes up in the air, it has the projectile first and then the show, the explosion afterwards so that was only five feet off the ground and you can see it scattered everywhere.”

The watermelon flew as far as 30 feet away; an indication of how far away people need to stay.

Tjeerdsma said, “As you can tell there’s not much left of the watermelon.”

But the little things can be dangerous too. Sioux Falls Fire says skin burns at around 140 degrees and sparklers at around 1,200.

“With kids running around, they touch each others skin or clothes, you can see how fast that can turn into a burn,” said Tjeerdsma.

If you aren’t careful these Independence Day staples could ruin your 4th of July fun.

“We just everyone to be safe,” Tjeerdsma said.

Sioux Falls Fire Rescue says it’s important to dispose of fireworks properly in a bucket with water in it. They say 49 fires in the last five years have been started by fireworks.