More than 697 cases of improperly stored fireworks were discovered June 12 in a garage in Cortez by West Manatee Fire District and Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.
WMFR was tipped off to “pallets full of fireworks” being stored at 4436 124th St. W., Cortez, according to a district news release.
Inspector Rodney Kwiatkowski responded and spoke to the tenant, Bob Slicker. Slicker said he rents the residence from John Banyas, owner of Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar, N.E. Taylor Boatworks, Cortez Bait and Seafood, a fish house and retail store, and Cortez Kitchen, a restaurant.
Slicker, who manages the Swordfish restaurant and bar, gave WMFR permission to enter the home.
Kwiatkowski took an inventory, consulted with the state fire marshal’s office and requested the sheriff’s assistance.
MCSO sent its bomb squad to the residence.
No charges were issued, according to an MCSO report, which determined the renter was not in violation of possessing illegal fireworks.
“The fireworks were to be returned to the company that sold them the following day,” Kwiatkowski said, adding he’d advised Slicker the fireworks needed to be stored 1,000 feet from a residence.
For the past two years on July 4, an unannounced fireworks display was launched from a barge in Sarasota Bay near the Banyas-owned businesses.
According to the fire inspector, “We do not know what the plans for the fireworks were. We only know the fireworks were being illegally stored.”
Calls and texts from The Islander June 28 to Banyas and Slicker for comment were not acknowledged as of press time.