ALTER AT YOUR OWN RISK
“It’s a terrible idea,” says a local man who’s got the burns to prove it. Six wind up hurt.
WEstimated number of fires caused by fireworks each year.
7Direct property loss caused by fireworks. Sources: National Fire Protection Association, Consumer Product Safety Commission hen Kimmy Loboda heard an explosion and felt her Blue Springs home shake Monday night, she raced to the front door to see what had happened.
A neighbor burst from his home with a blood-soaked cloth over his hand screaming that he’d blown his hand off.
Loboda ran over and persuaded him to lie down while she put pressure on the hand wound. His jaw looked broken, with his face battered and one eye damaged.
It was the second time in three days that explosions rocked suburban Kansas City homes and left young people with severe injuries — all because they wanted to engineer bigger bangs from fireworks available at area stands.
A similar explosion in a Raytown home on Saturday sent a woman to a local hospital burn unit.
Together, the explosions injured Estimated number of injuries caused by fireworks in 2008. Fireworks-related deaths in 2008.
six people and served as a jolting reminder of the downside of such ill-advised stunts.
Colby Johnson, 20, of Belton, who sustained several burns along his back and legs in the Raytown explosion, said he is now sadder but wiser.
“We don’t want anyone else to have to go through what we are going through right now, having to see one of our good friends in the burn unit,” Johnson said.
Johnson’s friend, Kirstie Perry, is receiving treatment for severe burns at a local hospital, he said. A fund has been established at a Belton bank to help pay her medical expenses.
The incidents prompted local public safety officials to issue new calls for common sense while area fireworks retailers pleaded for customers not to tamper with their products.
“Both accidents occurred because people were trying to alter the way the product was to be used,” said Nancy Blogin, a Riverside fireworks dealer who also serves as president of the National Council on Fireworks Safety, a Washingtonbased group of wholesalers and retailers.
Nationally, fireworks injured 7,000 people two years ago, experts say. And most injuries were caused by legal fireworks, not those cobbled together by amateurs.
According to Blue Springs police, Monday night’s explosion occurred shortly before 11 p.m. in the 3100 block of S.E. Third Street while two men were wrapping multiple groups of sparklers together with electrical tape.
“It is a way to create a heck of an explosion, and that is certainly what they did,” said Detective Troy Pharr, Blue Springs police spokesman.
“Sparkler bombs are illegal,” explained Blogin, who, with her husband, operates Honest John’s Fireworks, a seasonal Riverside fireworks tent.
Such accidents have increased in recent years, she said, because more fireworks customers are going online and finding directions on how to assemble dangerous devices.
But such practices put a time-honored American tradition in a poor light, she said, and conceivably could threaten the industry. “We want to keep fireworks for future generations.”
Authorities in Raytown and Blue Springs were continuing to investigate Tuesday.
In Blue Springs, the 21-yearold victim suffered extreme injuries to his left hand and arm, with additional injuries to his right eye, police said.
Authorities obtained a search warrant for the home Tuesday morning and were investigating further. It wasn’t clear whether charges would be filed in either incident.
The explosion, police said, caused one of the exterior walls to be pushed 3 inches off its foundation and knocked all of the kitchen cabinet doors from their frames. The blast injured a second man as well as a woman who also was inside the home.
The two men were taken to a local hospital. On Tuesday, officials at Centerpoint Medical Center listed one of the men in fair condition.
Family members could not be reached for comment.
Though the Blue Springs po- lice contacted the Kansas City division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the federal bureau usually is not involved with incidents involving consumer grade fireworks, said Rich Kight, Kansas City ATF group supervisor.
Blue Springs residents have been able to buy and use consumer-grade fireworks for many years, but only under specific guidelines. This year residents legally can use approved fireworks from July 1 through 4.
In Raytown, fireworks can be used legally on July 4.
Regulations vary between cities. For example, Independence residents can use specific fireworks during particular hours on July 3, 4 and 5.
Johnson, who was injured in the Raytown explosion, said this was not the first time he and friends had altered fireworks. On Saturday, he said, he had been trying to enhance “artillery shells” that he had purchased at an area fireworks tent.
“These are artillery shells that launch out of tubes, go up in the air and explode,” he said.
“You figure that if one looks cool going off, it would look even better if you get 10 together. We had done it before with no problems.” Not this time. The resulting explosion, according to Raytown police, blew out bedroom windows, cracked the ceiling and knocked a door off its hinges in a home in the 7200 block of Ash Street.
Perry, suffering severe burns, was taken to a hospital and placed in a medically-induced coma. A second person was treated for injuries and released.
Johnson said he medical treatment.
“I got a few random burns but it wasn’t anything compared to what happened to my friend,” he said.
The incident has convinced him that tampering with fireworks represents a poor choice.
“It’s a terrible idea,” Johnson said. “They have those warning labels on those fireworks for a reason.
“I just had to find out the hard way.” To reach Brian Burnes call 816 234-4120 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
Fireworks stands are up and running, such as Compton’s Fireworks near Interstate 35 and Missouri 291 in Liberty, where rocket-propelled fireworks filled a display Tuesday. Two prominent explosions this week have involved people tampering with purchased...
At Compton’s Fireworks near Interstate 35 and Missouri 291 in Liberty, employee Tyler Gray on Tuesday was busy stocking the tables full of aerial displays.