SOUTHAMPTON – Almost exactly a year ago, the Macklind Avenue Deli was open and flourishing at 4721 Macklind. The business had recently had a change of management as well as renovations to attract a new and younger crowd, building on the deli’s decades-long standing as an establishment beloved by its customers.
That all changed when the restaurant was set aflame by fireworks on the evening of July 5, 2018. That evening. Chief Dennis Jenkerson and the St. Louis Fire Department tried in vain to save the building from the blaze, in which two firefighters were injured.
After an investigation of what caused the fire to occur, Jenkerson concluded that illegal fireworks were what possibly caused the building to catch fire.
Though some hoped the deli could reopen, even starting a GoFundMe account to support renovation, the building had to be demolished that August. One year later, what used to be the Macklind Avenue Deli is now an empty space that will soon become a parking lot adjacent to a purchased church that will soon become apartments.
As the Fourth of July arrives again, bringing a multitude of fun and festivities to the city of St. Louis, it also brings concern for safety for reasons such as the deli’s notorious fire. The St. Louis police and fire departments have been preparing for the widespread use of fireworks and firearms to celebrate Independence Day.
The police made a post on Twitter on June 19 about the use of fireworks in the city, stating that summons would be issued and “fireworks would be seized.”
Per St. Louis city ordinance #65824 relative to the prohibited possession and discharge of fireworks in the city of St. Louis, our officers will enforce this ordinance during the Fourth of July. Offenders will be issued summons, and fireworks will be seized.
— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) June 19, 2019
Jenkerson states that the ordinance prohibits the use and distribution of fireworks in the city, which usually results in the punishment of a citation or a fine. However, after incidents such as the Macklind Avenue Deli’s burning from the use of fireworks, the police now warn that use of fireworks could lead to arrest. Earlier this week, their @SLMPD Twitter page followed up by using the hashtag #LetsHaveFunWithoutFireworks to remind residents of the severity of using the explosive devices and the consequences that could come from using them in the city.
Although police know how popular fireworks are and know how important it is to contain them, there’s an additional challenge: finding people who use not only fireworks but firearms, to celebrate.
“It’s worth noting that officers responding to calls for discharging ‘fireworks’ or ‘firearms’ would still need to locate the subject shooting off the ‘fireworks’ or firearms’ in order to issue a summons or affect an arrest,” said Jack Wang, Public Information Supervisor of the St. Louis police department. “Officers depend on citizens to call 911 and provide details to include descriptions of the subject(s) shooting fireworks or firearm, location of occurrence, etc.”
The St. Louis Fire Department has also made posts on social media in preparation for the holiday, and although the recent rainy days have cut down on the use of fireworks, Jenkerson said fireworks were still a problem, along with potential health problems from the recent heat wave.
“We haven’t received any calls recently, due to the rainy days we’ve had, which could be a result from the wet grass and other factors,” Jenkerson said. “We want to make sure people are safe while celebrating the weekend.”
He added, “Please knock on your neighbor’s door to make sure they’re okay.”
Today, the police and fire departments are determined to prevent the destruction of any other business or building like the Macklind Avenue Deli by illegal fireworks or firearms in St. Louis.
With the Fourth being on a Thursday, there’s a good chance that the celebration will continue well into the weekend. However, Jenkerson, the fire department and the police department hope residents will leave the fireworks to the professionals this year.