Illegal fireworks cause prize-winning horses to escape

Illegal fireworks cause prize-winning horses to escape

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Twelve hours after the Fourth of July celebrations, Victoria Gillenwater's horses were still shaken up from the noise. Twelve hours after the Fourth of July celebrations, Victoria Gillenwater's horses were still shaken up from the noise.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE  (WATE) – Shooting off fireworks in Knoxville and Knox County is illegal, but by the look of the sky Thursday night, it's a law many people ignore.

Twelve hours after the Fourth of July celebrations, Victoria Gillenwater's horses were still shaken up from the noise.

"We take as many precautions as we can. The horses that are outside, we put them up," explained Gillenwater.

But Thursday night the fireworks started early. As Gillenwater and her staff were putting the horses away, Prince, a retired show horse, got loose.

"These are quarter of a million dollar horses, and when they're loose they put other people in jeopardy, we're helpless to do anything about it," she said.

This isn't Gillenwater's first rodeo. She and her staff take preventative measures each Independence Day.

"We turn on fans, the radio. We try to make as much noise so they don't hear the booming sound," she explained.

She says Thursday night was worse than ever.

"It rivaled Boomsday in a neighborhood. There were lots of fireworks, lots of explosions, lots of noise," she said.

It took about 45 minutes to wrangle Prince, but he was uninjured.

"He's still a little upset from last night," she said, petting the 27-year-old horse.

Gillenwater called the sheriff's office, but according to the county law department unless deputies witness the fireworks in action there's little they can do about them.

In the city and the county there is a $50 citation for setting off fireworks illegally.

"I understand people are going to enjoy their fireworks," Gillenwater said. "But I wish they would take advantage of one of the great shows in Knoxville. For all of our planning, we can't control. We don't have any idea what time people are setting things off. Just be conscious of other people and what you're doing to them."

With the soggy Fourth of July weather, calls to 911 about illegal fireworks were down significantly. The Knoxville Police Department reported they had several calls and issued six citations.

The Knox County Sheriff's Office was a bit busier, receiving 70 calls throughout the night. One of the calls was from Scenic View Farms, where a neighbor's illegal firework show caused the farm's horses to get loose.

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