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Austin Fire Department keeping busy with firework-related fires

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 They look gorgeous...and they're a huge part of New Years and Fourth of July celebrations.  But if you live in the Austin city limits, popping fireworks is off-limits.

"The whole reason that it's illegal in the city is because of the injuries that we see statistically and because of the fires that are caused and the damages that are caused," said Captain Josh Portia with the Austin Fire Department Wildfire Division.

Portia says over the past 36 hours they've responded to 15 grass fires and 6 structure fires in Austin and out in the county.
Some of those they think are related to fireworks.
Including one home on Staton drive where what appeared to be someone elses illegal firework landed in a backyard and burnt the deck.
On Snowfall Drive, Rahila Ali woke up to a fire Friday night at the edge of their house.

"The kids were in the bed and my husband came running to me and was like 'Get up, get up!  We need to run!'  and I was like 'What happened?'  I thought there was you know a robbery or something," she said.

Ali says she's not sure how the fire started.

The Austin Fire Department says they suspect it was started by improperly discarded sparklers in the trash can next to the house.

"It was good that they got to it really quick and it didn't actually get inside of the home but there still was significant damage of I believe they reported a little over $5,000 worth of damage to the structure, the fence and the eave line of the house," he said.

Ali says her A/C unit was damaged in the fire so she and her family are living in a hot house.

"And especially with 3 kids, it's kind of difficult when it's like Summer and it's really hot today," she said.

Captain Portia says sparklers are completely fine and legal to use in the city but it's best to put them out in a bucket of water.  And after that when they're ready to be put in a trash can, take it one step further.

"A good practice for this would be to put them in a trash can, pull it away from the house so if it did catch on fire than it's not gonna be up against the house and definitely go out there and check it every now and then," Portia said.

Captain Portia says we're still early in the Fourth of July weekend.  He says if you see anyone popping fireworks in your neighborhood, don't call 911, but dial 311 and APD will handle it.

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