Holiday, fireworks fuel busy weekend for Cedar Rapids Police and Fire Departments

Organizers said this year’s show was the biggest in Freedom Festival history.
Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 12:58 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - The holiday weekend was a busy one for police and fire calls in Cedar Rapids as some Fourth of July festivities went too far.

Cedar Rapids reported 10 fires associated with fireworks during the weekend while police issued 15 citations on 461 calls regarding fireworks. It is illegal to set off fireworks anytime in Cedar Rapids, despite it being legal to buy and sell them. Other towns do allow limited use of fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Overall police calls were down from 587 in 2020. That’s because Cedar Rapids police spokesperson Greg Buelow noted “last year was particularly challenging because public fireworks were canceled due to COVID-19.”

However, 2021 calls to police for fireworks were up compared to 2018 and 2019 in Cedar Rapids. Police responded to almost as many calls on Sunday (234) as they did in a 3-day period around the holiday in 2019 (290).

Cedar Rapids firefighters also responded to more than twice as many fires this holiday weekend (10) compared to 2020 (4). Two of those fires were for mutual aid. A few of the fires appeared intentional, according to Buelow, including one incident where kids lit bushes on fire and another in a Port-O-Johnny.

As one Cedar Rapids Woman was enjoying the night in her backyard with friends she noticed a light in a pile of debris from the August Derecho in her backyard.

“Within minutes it was engulfed and it must have come from a spark of a firework or something and the ember just kind of burnt in our trash pile,” said Cindy Andersen.

When the Cedar Rapids and Marion fire departments arrived in Andersen’s backyard she says they told her they had received a lot of firework-related calls.

“Oh yes, they said it was a busy night,” said Andersen.

It took the fire department over an hour to control the brush fire that occurred in Andersen’s backyard.

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