Missing fireworks creates public safety issue

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UPDATE:  The St. Tammany Sheriff’s Department has made two arrests in the theft of 19 cases of commercial-grade fireworks. Read more HERE.

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ST. TAMMANY PARISH (WGNO) - One New Year’s Eve fireworks show is in jeopardy thanks to a theft in St. Tammany Parish. Investigators are searching for a truck load of commercial-grade fireworks that were stolen from a pyrotechnics company.

WGNO News Reporter Darian Trotter talked to experts who explained why this has become a public safety issue.

It's that time when huge fireworks displays help ring in the New Year with a bang.

Investigators with St. Tammany Sheriff's Office are working to make sure that the large amount of missing commercial grade fireworks doesn't result in a large explosion of a different kind.

"You wouldn't want that in the wrong hands," Barbara Herbert said.

Investigators say 19 cases of commercial-grade fireworks were recently stolen before they could be used during a New Year’s Eve show in Bossier City.

They were taken from a locked truck that was parked in the gated lot of the pyrotechnics company.

"That’s scary knowing that someone who could be in the parish having those in their hands. That's very scary."

The State Fire Marshal's office says professional grade fireworks are very dangerous, and in the wrong hands they can be deadly.

In a statement, Deputy Chief Brant L. Thompson said, "These types of devices are only suitable for use by trained professionals who are properly licensed to conduct public displays."

Even then, they are set off far away from the public and sometimes on a barge.

"I’m not an expert. I don't know, but I’ve seen just from the sound of them I wouldn't even want to be close to them when they go off. Generally they push the barge out in the river and they leave it to the professionals," Keith Pace said.

Customers buying fireworks for personal Tuesday said they know to put safety first.

"It’s very important. Safety is very important. Just never hold them in your hand," Herbert said.

Herbert spreads the same message to her loved ones as Keith Pace does with his son's and daughter.

"Lite the fuse, and get away. Just like it says on the wrapper. Don't hold it in your hand," he added.

If the fireworks sold on the side of the road are dangerous, you can understand why authorities are worried about the missing, more powerful commercial grade fireworks.

"Well, I hope they find out who it is and nobody gets hurt," Pace said.

The State Fire Marshal is working with St. Tammany Parish investigators to find the missing fireworks.

If you have information that might help call the Sheriff's Office (985) 809-8207.

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