Haul of fireworks in Thanet could have caused “significant explosion”

Fireworks found in storage unit in Ramsgate Fireworks found in storage unit in Ramsgate

Thursday, October 17, 2013
11:56 AM

Fireworks were being sold illegally

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Two large hauls of fireworks being sold illegally and worth thousands of pounds have been seized in Thanet.

Worringly, Kent County Council’s Trading Standards officers and Kent Police said in both instances the fireworks were being stored dangerously, which could have led to a “significant” explosion.

One haul was discovered in a self-storage unit in Ramsgate and the other at a private house in Margate.

In both cases, the fireworks were being sold via Facebook.

Those at the storage facility were found in a confined 20sqft space and contained a total of 50kg of gunpowder.

Trading Standards manager Mark Rolfe said a single spark could have caused an explosion big enough to destroy the whole depot.

Although the fireworks themselves were authentic, Mr Rolfe said they were being sold before the legal period for sales which runs from October 15 to November 11.

The 23 boxes would retail for between £300 and £500 and, although the owners of the storage unit in Ramsgate were not aware of the precise contents, they had been asked to insure them for £11,000.

Mr Rolfe said: “To picture that amount of explosive, that’s two wholesale-size sacks of potatoes of pure gunpowder – which would make a fairly significant explosion.

“The storage conditions were totally unsafe with standard electrical fittings running above the fireworks.

“The expert advice we have been given is that one spark from a failing fluorescent tube could have destroyed the building.”

A 34-year-old man has been questioned and investigations are continuing.

The second raid, at a house in Millmead in Margate, uncovered 20kg of fireworks, also being advertised via Facebook.

Mr Rolfe said: “This was not as big a haul as the other, but they were still being stored in a dangerous condition and could easily have caused an explosion.”

The fireworks have been removed to a safe store and enquiries are being carried out to identify the seller.

Chief Insp Lee Russell, from Kent Police partnerships and communities, said: “We are continuing to work with Trading Standards on this issue, which is particularly important at this time of year.

“This is not just a matter of the damage that such incidents can cause, but the threat to personal safety and possible serious injury.”

Mr Rolfe added: “In both cases, these were simply ridiculous conditions for the storage of fireworks.

“We urge anyone who needs to store large quantities of fireworks, or anyone who has concerns about illegal storage in their neighbourhood, to check with us about that the venue is appropriate and safe. If not, there is the chance that someone could die in an explosion.”

Contact KCC Trading Standards on 08454 040506 or e-mail trading.standards@kent.gov.uk

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