Marion County 911 sees 700% increase in fireworks calls this year

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INDIANAPOLIS- Every summer you expect to hear fireworks around the 4th July. But in Marion County, the celebration this year seems to have started a little early.

“It’s a lot more than normal,” said Butler Tarkington resident Barry Gaines. “Boom, boom, boom. Over and over ’til about 11, 12, 1 o’clock at night.”

The noise of fireworks has become the nightly soundtrack for Gaines and his neighbors in Butler Tarkington. The sounds aren’t abnormal this time of year but seem to have become more frequent.

“Last weekend they put on a heck of a show,” Gaines said. “People were stopped in the middle of the street watching.”

As the fireworks keep Gaines and his neighbors up at night, they’re also keeping the 911 center busy.

“Yes, we definitely have noticed an uptick in calls,” said Captain Bryce Wolf with the Marion County Sherriff’s Office.

Last year, police in Marion County had 143 fireworks runs from June 1- June 25. In that same timeframe this year, they’ve had 1,157.

“I think this year may be a little bit busier because the COVID 19 restrictions,” Wolf said. “The cities and parks are not putting on the city-sanctioned fireworks displays like they have in years past.”

The 700% increase in calls has kept dispatchers busy. Unless someone is in danger, they ask that you call non-emergency lines like 311 instead.

“That (calling 911) ties up that 911 operator for the duration of the call from taking another call that could potentially be more urgent,” Wolf said. “If someone thinks there’s a potential for it being gunshots, we encourage people to call 911. But if it’s simply fireworks and they can verify it is just fireworks… then we ask they call the non-emergency number.”

The 911 Center expects even more calls to come the week before the 4th, and more than 3,000 on July 4 alone.

Whether it’s out of boredom or celebration, the nightly soundtrack in Butler Tarkington is stuck on repeat.

“Just seems like everybody is stuck at home, shooting off fireworks,” Gaines said.

The non-emergency telephone line in Marion County is 317-327-3811, or 311 for callers using a cell phone.

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