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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

Flying 48 stars for her Independence Day

(Photo by Cheryl-Anne Millsap)  


   I really thought I’d sold or given away the old 48-star United States flag I picked up at an estate sale years ago.  I hadn’t seen the flag since we downsized six years ago, so I assumed it didn’t make the move. But last week I was rummaging through a box on one of the shelves in the garage and there it was.

    Using old upholstery tacks I hung it on the cedar shingles of the house, over the metal gliders that sit in a favorite corner near the covered patio, a place I like to sit early in the morning or in the cool of the evening. I liked the way it lifted in the breeze, when there was a breeze, and fluttered a bit. We didn’t have any big plans for the 4th of July, just grilling hamburgers on the patio with the family, so I decided the vintage cotton flag—made sometime between 1912 and 1959, before the addition of Hawaii and Alaska—was all the decoration we needed.

    I left it up for a few days after the 4th of July because my daughter, the new college graduate, would be home later in the week as she made her way over to Seattle to complete a week of specialized training for her new job as a geologist. That night, before she flew out the next morning, after another patio meal, we talked about her new job and her new life and celebrated her launch into the adult world.

   Before she left I snapped a photo of her sitting in the place I spend so many quite moments. In the photograph the flag is hanging over her marking, at least in my mind, yet another kind of independence day.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance writer based in Spokane, Washington. In addition to her Spokesman-Review Home Planet and Treasure Hunting columns and blogs and her CAMera: Travel and Photo blog, her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com

Try our 13 Trivia Questions for Independence Day

July 4th is a day for getting together with friends and family, tossing back a few cold ones and grilling a few hot dogs and watching things go Ka-Boom in the night sky. But before you go painting the town red-white-and-blue, test your Yankee-Doodle-ness with our annual 13 Trivias for Independence Day. 

(There's another July 4th Quiz in Wednesday's paper, but these are the ones we thought were a little bit tougher.)

1. According to the poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, "the shot heard round the world" was fired at
A. Lexington
B. Concord
C. Boston
D. Yorktown
E. Trenton

2. The Battle of Bunker Hill took place in the city of
A. Boston
B. New York
C. Lexington
D. Philadelphia
E. Charleston

3. Who was the last president who was born a citizen of another country?
A. James Monroe
B. John Quincy Adams
C. Andrew Jackson
D. Martin Van Buren
E. Millard Fillmore

4. To what political party did President George Washington belong?
A. Federalist
B. Whig
C. Democratic
D. Republican
E. Can't fool me. None of those are right.

5. By the end of the American Revolution, what was the ratio of blacks in the Continental Army?
A. 1 in 20
B. 1 in 10
C. 1 in 7
D. 1 in 4
E. None, blacks weren’t allowed to serve.

6. On what ship did John Paul Jones utter the phrase "I have not yet begun to fight"?
A. USS Bonhomme Richard
B. USS Constitution
C. USS Liberty
D. USS Invincible
E. Can’t fool me. Patrick Henry said that.

7. Before the Star Spangled Banner, what song served as American’s unofficial anthem?
A. Yankee Doodle
B. Battle Hymn of the Republic
C. God Bless America
D. My Country ‘Tis of Thee
E. America the Beautiful

8. Before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, what was the document that governed the United States?
A. The Magna Carta
B. The Declaration of Independence
C. The Articles of Confederation
D. The Emancipation Proclamation
E. The Mayflower Compact

9. Who was president for the nation’s Centennial?
A. James Polk
B. Abraham Lincoln
C. Andrew Johnson
D. Ulysses S. Grant
E. Rutherford Hayes

10. What was the first state added to the original 13?
A. Vermont
B. Kentucky
C. Tennessee
D. Ohio
E. Louisiana

11. From what country did Thomas Jefferson buy the land of the Louisiana Purchase?
A. England
B. France
C. Mexico
D. Russia
E. Spain

12. In what line of stars in the flag is the star for Idaho?
A. Fifth from the top
B. Sixth from the top
C. Seventh from the top
D. Eighth from the top
E. Can’t fool me. None of those are right.

13. Name the presidents whose last name ended in "-son"

Wonder how you did? Answers inside the blog.

List the problems here


Most of us survived sparklers

But you have to assume that had a lot to do with luck.


These things (below) were safer. Though certain dads were known to take exception to the unsightly burn marks that snakes left on the driveway.


Hard to believe

That the 4th of July is just a week away.

Some of us are lucky to still have all our fingers.


Dennis: ‘Happy 4th Of July’ Offensive?

"While exiting Boise (July 4) and heading back to Catalina, I thanked the TSA rep at the airport for her service on Independence Day," posts Dennis Mansfield. "'Happy 4th of July', I said. Her quiet answer took me by surprise. She looked both ways, then said in a hushed voice: 'Happy 4th to you sir; we can't initiate such a greeting to travellers because TSA is worried it will offend people. We can only respond. Thank you for saying that to me.' TSA's concerned that they will offend people for this holiday and others as well? Like who?"/Dennis Mansfield. More here.

Question: Do you see anything wrong with the greeting: "Happy 4th of July"?

Take the July 4th quiz

Happy Independence Day.

Spin Control is taking the day off, but if you’ve put out the flag, packed the cooler and bought the fireworks, only one question remains: Just how much do you really know about American history?

The real history, that is – not the stuff you pick up from listening to July 4th speeches, watching Mel Gibson movies or reading novels. Take the 13 question quiz and see what level of patriotic study you have achieved:

Flag stuff

Elementary school question: The Stars and Stripes, aka Old Glory, now has stars for the current states and stripes for the original ones. How many red stripes does the U.S. flag have?

High school question: How many stars in the top row of a 50-star flag?

Graduate level question: Of George Washington, Benedict Arnold, Ethan Allen and John Paul Jones, who can we say definitely fought under a contemporary version of the Stars and Stripes?

Declaration of Independence stuff

Elementary school question: Whose signature is larger than all others at the bottom of the declaration?

High school question: What are the three inalienable rights listed in the declaration?

Graduate level question: What three things did the signers pledge to each other at the close of the declaration?

Battle stuff

Elementary school question: American troops got significant military help from what country during the revolution?

High school question: The last battle of the Revolutionary War was fought where?

Graduate level question: Of battles of Lexington, Bunker Hill, Ticonderoga, Long Island, which happened after independence was declared?

Celebration stuff

Elementary school question: The fireworks that mark July 4th celebrations originated in what country?

High school question: Where was the first celebration of American independence held?

Graduate level question: On what day was that celebration held?

Extra credit

Two famous American documents, the Declaration and the Constitution, were signed by the people present when drafted. Among the following, who signed both documents? George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton.

Go inside for the answers.