DENVER -- A Contact7 hidden camera investigation found people across Denver offering for sale fireworks that are illegal to use in our state.
All fireworks that explode in the air and leave the ground are illegal to use in Colorado. Only handheld fireworks like sparklers or ones that remain on the ground are legal to use, and some communities are even banning those due to high fire danger.
But a tip to Contact7 revealed an underground market for the illegal stuff, some being offered on Craigslist, many offering free delivery.
Warehouses on Federal Blvd. sell the illegal fireworks legally by requiring customers to present an out-of-state license and vehicle registration, and also sign a form saying they will not use the fireworks in Colorado.
But one Craigslist seller told Contact7 on hidden camera he buys from those warehouses and was willing to resell to anyone who brought cash.
“Do I get in trouble for buying it?” Contact7 chief investigative reporter Tony Kovaleski asked the seller while a hidden camera was rolling.
“Only if you get caught,” he responded from his Englewood apartment. “I’ve seen people get caught. They just give you a ticket."
Denver Fire Department division chief Manny Almagure watched the hidden camera video and said he was concerned by what he saw, especially when he saw a shot of large quantities of fireworks being stored in an apartment.
“I would say there is tremendous risk,” he said. “In the city and county of Denver, that's up to $1000 in fines, as well as jail time.”
The people who came to Contact7 for help sell fireworks the legal way, obtaining permits and sticking to the stuff the law allows. One of those sellers, who did not want to be identified, said the underground market is eating away at his business – which is already hurting because of widespread fire restrictions.
"There's not really much that can be done about it,” he said. “These guys selling illegal fireworks get hit with a little fine, and they’re right back the next year doing the same thing.”
With so many destructive wildfires already burning, Denver’s fire chief said Contact7’s hidden camera video shows there is further cause for concern on Independence Day.
“What's concerning to me is the accessibility, and the current condition we are with drought and heat,” he said.
Contact7 did not purchase any of the illegal fireworks offered for sale during its hidden camera investigation.