Feds warn of black-market fireworks

KING COUNTY, Wash. – Fireworks sales are heating up across Puget Sound ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, but there are some kinds of devices that federal officials warn you should avoid.

“There’s a fair amount of money in this stuff,” said Brennan Phillip, of the ATF Seattle Field Division.

Multiple agencies showcased several devices that are sometimes found for sale under the table that are not only illegal and dangerous but also deadly.

They’re not fireworks – federal cops say these are really home-made bombs.

“It’s not worth the risk to your limbs, not to mention the legal risk you’re taking,” added Phillips.

Officials say sometimes the contraband won’t have labels and others will look homemade. Just possessing certain illegal items can get you into big trouble this holiday.

Not only are contraband devices dangerous, legal fireworks can also cause serious injury and property damage during the holiday.

“Teens are more often injured by homemade fireworks, or the modification of existing fireworks,” said Dr. Kari Keys from UW Medicine.

UW Medicine says they prepare every year for casualties when lighting off fireworks goes wrong. The most dangerous kind are mortars, says Keys, and the danger in their firepower is unmistakable.

“Injuries from exploring these types of devices could cause permanent injuries like blindness and amputation,” she said.

Depending on where you live it may not even be legal to set off fireworks. Plus, many fire officials across Puget Sound are urging people to avoid buying their own and head to a professional show instead.