CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Police Second District Commander Thomas Stacho said it is one of the largest fireworks seizures anyone can remember: a garage full of explosive materials. Thankfully it never met a match.
After a citizen complaint about an illegal fireworks operation, officers made an undercover buy on the 3500 block of West 46th Street.
The suspect, a man in his 40s who police would not identify, offered an even greater supply of fireworks at a different location.
Undercover police followed him to the 8700 block of Pleasant Valley Road in Parma where they found a makeshift fireworks shop inside the garage of another man, age 77.
Police seized about $100,000 in commercial grade fireworks. Stacho says it appears the fireworks were purchased outside the area, and perhaps legally.
"Things like this that you see displayed here are going to hurt somebody," said Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams at a news conference announcing the bust. "If that location where the fireworks were found somehow ignited it would have blew up half the neighborhood. Things like this can have a devastating effect on our communities. And if people know of illegal stashes like this, people's kids are coming home with boxes of firecrackers and M-80s, they need to find out where they's coming from and let us know."
Williams said CPD had 500 calls for fireworks around the Independence Day holiday in 2013. It's illegal to possess or shoot off fireworks in the city of Cleveland, as well as many other local cities including Akron, Mentor, and Lorain.
FIREWORKS IN OHIO: Legal to buy, illegal to shoot off
"Those locations that we know that have issues year in and year out, we enforce that and make sure it doesn't happen. So the residents that live and actually want to enjoy their holiday aren't disturbed all night long by those fireworks displays," said Williams.
Police say they are hoping a grand jury will indict the two men involved on felony charges for the fireworks and for possession of a dangerous ordinance.
If you hear it happening in your neighborhood, you can call non emergency numbers for police and fire. Cleveland Police can be reached at 216-621-1234. Cleveland Fire Department can be reached at 216-664-6350.
There are a number of public displays around Northeast Ohio that run through the weekend. For a complete list, click here.