by Henry Rosoff
WACO - Police had to use smoke and tear gas to eventually break up an illegal fireworks show and some fighting Saturday night.
It happened in East Waco on the 400 block of Elm Street. Reports of fires and fighting came in at 11:42 p.m., according to James Baker with the Waco Fire Department. Police, nearly 20 firefighters and eight fire trucks responded.
When they arrived, a large crowd had gathered and started shooting fireworks directly at authorities, police said.
"We had fireworks and everything and we had a grass fire and the building over there [409 Elm St.] got caught on fire," said Steve Perales, a local business owner who was on Elm Street Saturday night.
By the time firefighters could actually get to the fire, an abandoned building at 409 Elm Street was gutted. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.
Police and firefighters eventually left the scene, but had to return just hours later, around 3:00 a.m. when a grass fire at Peach Street and Elm Street flared back up. The crowd again shot fireworks at authorities and wouldn't let the firefighters get to the grass fire, police said. Police responded, using smoke and tear gas to break up the crowd and allowing firefighters to get to the blaze.
Perales says it was fun that just got out of hand.
"We were trying to have a good time over this way but the police came, the fire [happened], and everybody just cleared out and left," Perales said.