August 17, 1998
Release # 98-149
|CONTACT: Russ Rader
(301) 504-0580 Ext. 1166
CPSC Seizes Illegal Fireworks in
WASHINGTON, D.C. -
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that its investigators
seized more than 11,000 illegal fireworks in Wisconsin. CPSC worked with the Milwaukee
U.S. Attorney's office, the U.S. Marshal's Service and a local bomb squad in raiding a
fireworks establishment in the town of Keshena, which is in Northeastern Wisconsin.
Fireworks banned under federal law killed one person and severely injured at least two
others in the area last month. Follow-up on the incidents led CPSC investigators to
vendors in the area.
On July 14, after detonating an illegal firecracker in a mailbox, a 17-year old boy was
killed from flying debris. On July 5, a 37-year old man lost several fingers after an
illegal firecracker exploded in his hand. Another man also suffered a hand injury.
Firecrackers involved in the injuries have been linked to the Keshena vendor. The death is
still under investigation.
The seized fireworks include professional mortar shells and large firecrackers, known as
M-80s, one-quarter sticks and one-eighth sticks, containing up to 150 times the legal
limit of explosive powder. Some devices have the explosive force of one-quarter stick of
TNT. A second vendor in the area has voluntarily agreed to turn over an additional 600
illegal fireworks, including M-80s and professional class roman candles.
Under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, CPSC prohibits the sale of the most dangerous
types of fireworks to consumers. The banned fireworks include large, reloadable tube
devices, cherry bombs, aerial bombs and M-80 salutes. Large firecrackers containing more
than 50 milligrams of explosive powder also are banned, as well as mail order kits
designed to build these fireworks.
Improper use of fireworks or use of illegal fireworks can result in deaths, blindings,
amputations and severe burns. In 1997, hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 8,300
CPSC conducts fireworks surveillance and enforcement throughout the year. Each year, CPSC
stops hundreds of shipments of hazardous fireworks before they reach the store shelves.
Working with the U.S. Customs Service since 1988, CPSC has seized or detained more than
400 million hazardous fireworks at the docks.
CPSC is asking anyone with knowledge of illegal fireworks vendors or distributors to call
their Special Investigations Unit at (800) 638-8095, extension 1515.
The U.S. Consumer Product
Safety Commission protects the public from the unreasonable risk of injury or death from
15,000 types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. To report a dangerous
product or a product-related injury and for information on CPSC's fax-on-demand service,
call CPSC's hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC's teletypewriter at (800) 638-8270. To order
a press release through fax-on-demand, call (301) 504-0051 from the handset of your fax
machine and enter the release number. Consumers can report product hazards to email@example.com.