Illegal Firework Disposal Has Northampton Massachusetts Neighborhood Alarmed, Outraged
Residents of a suburban neighborhood in Northampton, Massachusetts are demanding information about a series of explosions last week which had some of them worried they were under attack. The incident has since been identified as a state-led disposal of illegal fireworks.
Northampton City Councilor Marianne Labarge lives about a mile away from the gravel pit where a state bomb squad set off three separate blasts last Thursday. She says the first blast -- at around 3 in the afternoon -- was so powerful it shook her entire home. Soon after, her voicemail was flooded with messages from residents.
"One of my residents was furious. She says her house shook so bad that she didn't know if there was any cracking in the foundation or not. She wanted to know how come, who authorized it, why a residential neighborhood, what chemicals and explosives were involved."
Labarge says she and other city councilors weren't briefed on the procedure -- which was a controlled disposal of illegal homemade fireworks seized from a vacant Springfield home. She says the agencies involved -- State Police, the State Department of Fire Services and Department of Environmental Protection officials -- did not contact city officials, including Mayor David Narkewicz.
"It's about sharing information. I understand that there can be in law enforcement some security issues around that but I still think we have an obligation to the citizens of Northampton to make sure that they're safe and that they have advance knowledge of something like this occurring."
Narkewicz says he's requested information about the incident from the state, including a list of secure disposal sites in Western Massachusetts that might not be in residential or school zones. He says he plans to work with the agencies to improve future emergency notification protocol. The State Fire Marshall declined to be interviewed for broadcast.