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Fireworks cause death, destruction in 2012

Boys will be boys, as the saying goes.

Males between 8 and 21 years old were responsible for most of the 354 fireworks-related incidents reported in 2012, according to data released by the Washington State Fire Marshal's Office.

In all, there were 128 fires and 226 injuries, including 11 amputations and one death. The data come from reports submitted to the state Fire Marshal’s Office by fire departments and hospital emergency rooms.

One celebration turned deadly when a 61-one-year-old Richland, Wash. man was killed after attempting to relight an illegally obtained, professional display firework that failed to go off. Upon inspecting it and relighting it, the shell exploded, hitting him in the upper body and head.

In all, illegal fireworks were to blame for 26 fires and 64 injuries statewide last year around the holiday. The majority of incidents occurred on July 4. Most injuries occurred while a person held a firework in their hand, stood too close to lit fireworks, or leaned over fireworks.

Seven sparkler bomb incidents were reported, including two fires or explosions that caused facial, torso and hand injuries. Sparkler bombs are considered improvised explosive devices, which are illegal to manufacture or posses, said Lysandra Trejo, deputy state fire marshal.

Misuse of fireworks also damaged property. Seven residential fires accounted for $880,500 loss.

With another Independence Day just around the corner, authorities are reminding the public to stay safe.

Supervision of children 14 and under is critical in reducing emergency responses to fireworks incidents, Trejo said in a news release.

“Talk to your kids about fireworks and safety,” Trejo said. “Set family boundaries. Only adults should light fireworks.”

She added that fireworks should be stored in a secure location out of the reach and sight of curious children.

“Personal fireworks require personal responsibility,” she said.

She said those lighting fireworks should remember the three Bs of fireworks safety:

Be prepared – have water nearby and put pets indoors.

Be safe – only adults should light fireworks and,

Be responsible – clean up firework debris.

Keep an eye out for a listing of local fireworks laws in The Spokesman-Review on Monday.

More information about fireworks safety, public fireworks displays and the fireworks laws for your area also can be found at the Celebrate Safely website, www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/fireworks.htm