Irresponsible and illegal firework use in Abbotsford caused some in the community to have one Halloween scare too many.
Abbotsford fire crews were called to five fires, which resulted in property damage, along with several other smaller incidents.
“I had one captain tell me [Friday] morning that it looked like World War Three out there with all the fireworks going off,” said a spokesperson for Abbotsford Fire Prevention and Investigations.
The sale, possession and use of fireworks is illegal in Abbotsford without a proper permit. People violating the bylaw are subject to fines ranging from $200 to $1,000.
Abbotsford city council banned fireworks in 2005 due to the potential for property damage. In the two years prior to the ban, 37 firework accidents had caused $80,000 in total damages.
One mother trick-or-treating with her daughter witnessed and filmed one firework fire. Dawn Owen said a group of people at a neighbour’s house started a small fire under a pile of leaves on the driveway. They had placed fireworks underneath the leaves.
“My daughter was going to go up to the house and trick-or-treat and I was like, ‘No, let’s not,’” Owen said. “We came walking back towards our home and saw the bushes were on fire.
“If she would have [gone to the house, the fire] would have gone off right beside her.”
In a separate incident, another woman said she, her eight-year-old daughter and two other families were attacked by a large group of teenage boys with Roman candles in the park next to Dave Kandal Elementary School.
She requested to remain anonymous because she owns a business attached to her name and is afraid of any retribution from the teenagers.
The confrontation began after the teenagers set off a firework on a bark mulch area in the park and nearly caused a fire. The woman yelled at them to stop because the group of families was going to walk by.
In response, the teenagers starting firing Roman candles at them, she said.
“There was about 30 teenage boys, all dressed in black clothes head-to-toe with hoodies and backpacks, so clearly [this was] planned,” the woman said. “They were deliberately aiming right at us.”
She said when she yelled that she was calling the police, they ran away for a moment, stopped, and started running in back in their direction.
“These boys [started] threatening our lives, saying, ‘We’re going to kill you,’” she said. “And again the guys light up their fireworks and they throw them right at us.”
The woman said her young daughter, along with the other children, were traumatized by the event.
“They’re terrified. My daughter was like, ‘Mommy, stop the fireworks!’ all night long,” she said. “They’re never going to forget that. They’re eight or nine and it’s just awful.”
Abbotsford police are aware of the incident but no arrests were made, according to Const. Rob Dyck, media officer for the department.
“There was a group of kids running around there firing off fireworks and sort of doing what kids would do right? Punks,” Dyck said. “[But] nothing warranting charges because, obviously, everyone is dressed up so we can’t even see who’s who.”
Police attended 22 calls relating to illegal fireworks use just in the Townline neighbourhood of the city, according to Dyck. He said the department confiscated two backpacks full of fireworks for the night.