ATF warns against illegal fireworks in Harris County

By Jace Larson - Investigative Reporter , Louis Lochte - News Producer

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - It won't be long before we all hear those pops and bangs. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives warned against illegal fireworks in northwest Harris County on Wednesday.

One of the biggest problems around the Fourth of July is when people buy sparklers and then tape them together with electrical tape. It creates something similar to a pipe bomb.

According to reports, a Kansas City home exploded on June 4 after illegal M-80s and cherry bombs were made.

The home explosion killed a man.

"The ATF wants individuals to celebrate safely this Fourth of July," Robert Elder, ATF Special Agent in Charge, said.

Of all the homemade fireworks, sparkler bombs are the biggest problem.

In 2012, a 17-year-old died after a sparkler bomb exploded.

"We've had them on a front door and will light them and they will blow up and there is shrapnel," said Lt. Robert Baker, with the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal's Office.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, fireworks injured 8,700 people around the Fourth of July in 2012.

That was the last time the annual report was released. Seventy-four percent of those victims were males; a third injured were children.

"You think you know what you are getting, but you might not be getting that. It might go off a lot quicker than you think," Baker said.

Fireworks are legal in most unincorporated areas of Southeast Texas counties but are banned in most cities including Houston.

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