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More than 300 fires over first firework weekend

More than 300 fires over first weekend of fireworks sales

October 30, 2006

Fire Service figures are already painting a bleak picture of the annual Guy Fawkes sale period, with figures showing there were more than 300 fires over the first three days of the 10-day period.

The second day of the sale period alone, Saturday October 28, saw 143 fires, the highest number on that date since reliable stats began in 1994.

There were 317 fires over the first three days fireworks were legally for sale, or about 105 per day. This compares with an average of 61 per day for the rest of October.

Fireworks had barely hit the shelves on Friday before firefighters and police around New Zealand were rushing to put out fires, deal with homemade bombs and support shell-shocked homeowners.

Acting Fire Service National Commander Paul McGill says the service is horrified that the mayhem started just hours into the sales period.

A Feilding house was the subject of a deliberate attack that included a lit firework being thrown through a window, Porirua police had to call out bomb disposal experts after a modified fireworks “bomb” was left at a primary school and in Invercargill, fireworks were put into an internal access mailbox, leaving an elderly women’s house at risk of catching fire.

Mr McGill says many of the incidents could have had extremely serious consequences.

“If a firework starts a fire inside a house in can be fatal for the occupants and very risky for the firefighters that have to put it out.

“This isn’t a hypothetical scenario either; last year we had a family lucky to get out of a house in Christchurch where fireworks where thrown inside and a room caught fire, and not so long ago, firefighters were badly burnt following a deliberate fireworks fire in a video shop.”

Mr McGill says the latest mayhem will push public opinion further in favour of a retail ban.

“It appears that the hoons are going to ruin it for everyone, because the growing number of incidents of misuse is going to become intolerable to the public very soon.”

ENDS

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