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Fireworks Accidents Kill Four, Injure More Than 90 Others

July 6, 1986

Undated (AP) _ Fourth of July fireworks accidents killed four people, including two veteran workers setting up displays, and injured more than 90 others, most of them spectators.

In addition, one person died when she fell off a bluff during a private fireworks show and another died when he set off a homemade pipe bomb.

Fireworks were blamed for a blaze that gutted part of an apartment complex in Anaheim, Calif., leaving 94 families homeless.

A fire and explosion leveled an unoccupied storage building owned by one of the three fireworks firms that put on the Statue of Liberty display, and an antique cannon exploded in New Hampshire, showering shrapnel that hurt five people.

One man was killed during a fireworks show in Madison, Wis. The man was lighting a series of 5-inch mortars when one apparently blew up and hit him in the jaw, police said.

Dane County Deputy Coroner Donald Scullion identified the victim as Jerome Heim, 33, of Seymour, Wis., an employee of the Spielbauer Fireworks Co. of Green Bay.

In Edgewater, Fla., a mortar exploded on Firecracker Island and killed volunteer Fire Chief George Kennedy, 39, as he was loading some of the town’s $5,500 worth of fireworks, said Volusia County Sheriff’s Capt. Ed Carroll.

A Huntsville, Ala., youth was killed and two people were injured Friday night when fireworks exploded inside a van and fire swept through the vehicle, said police spokesman Ronnie Fudge.

Fudge identified the victim as Gregory Wayne Myers, 14, of Huntsville.

In the Chicago suburb of Batavia, Jason Kraft, 17, was killed in an explosion at a friend’s house, where two other youths who were not injured said he had been mixing powder taken from fireworks, according to a release from Batavia police.

At Rehoboth, Mass., spectators at the town’s celebration said fireworks suddenly burst into flames and shot into the crowd, about 150 yards away.

Police said seven people were treated at the scene and 18 others were taken to hospitals in Taunton and Attleboro, Mass., and Providence and Pawtucket, R.I.

Thirty people suffered minor burns and cuts when a rocket went into the stands at a fireworks show in the Ironbound Stadium at Newark, N.J.

In Rockport, Texas, fireworks exploded about 10 minutes into a show on Rockport Beach north of Corpus Christi, and six people were injured.

A fireworks accident Thursday injured eight people at Dunwoody, Ga., including a 9-year-old girl who underwent minor surgery for burns and possible shrapnel wounds.

An investigation indicated that the bottom of a firing tube blew out after a rocket was lit, throwing the device about 100 yards and breaking up a rack of rockets that already had been ignited, said a DeKalb County arson squad spokesman.

In Madeira Beach, Fla., Fire Chief Charles Beard suffered burns on his legs and a fractured pelvis and arm when a 5-inch round exploded inside a mortar at the city’s fireworks show Friday, according to fire Lt. Brian Turini.

In another accident in the Tampa Bay area, Safety Harbor firefighter Jerry Moreland suffered severe nerve and muscle damage to his arm when a 6-inch mortar exploded on the ground, said fire Lt. Ted Seaman.

Both Beard and Moreland were hospitalized in stable condition.

In Groose Ile, Mich., sparks from rockets during the finale of the city’s fireworks show set off other rockets aboard a barge in the Detroit River, panicking a crowd of about 500 people.

A woman injured in the rush to escape the scene was treated and released at a hospital, said police officer John Faryniarz.

In Hawaii, Robert Curlee, 30, an employee of a fireworks company staging a show on the island of Oahu, lost his left forearm and suffered burns on his chest and face when an aerial fireworks mortar he was cleaning was detonated.

Curlee, reported in guarded condition Saturday at Queen’s Medical Center here, mistakenly started to clean a mortar that had not yet been fired, police said.

Nine Los Angeles youngsters were injured in fireworks accidents, two of them critically.

Five children who had collected seemingly spent fireworks Saturday morning were injured, one seriously, when one piece that had misfired blew up as they tried to light it, said Jim Wells, spokesman for the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

On Friday, two of five children playing with illegal fireworks were critically burned when one of them dropped a lighted firework into a box full of the pyrotechnics, said city fire spokesman Jim Williamson. Two others were in serious condition at local hospitals.

A 24-year-old man in Quincy, Mass., died when a copper pipe he had filled with a pound of gunpowder exploded in Braintree, said police Detective Brian Hickman. He said David A. Gobbi had tied the bomb to a tree in a wooded area before he tried to detonate it.

Near Monteagle, Tenn., a woman was killed and two were injured when they fell from a bluff while shooting fireworks early Saturday. Police Chief Lee Parker identified the victim as Cindy F. Christ, 19.

Union Township, Pa., firemen were sent Friday night to a burning building near New Castle, Pa., that is owned by Zambelli Internationale Fireworks Manufacturing Co., one of the companies that staged the fireworks display in New York harbor. The building soon blew up.

The black-powder cannon explosion occurred during a barbecue at the home of Milford, N.H., town moderator Robert Philbrick. Shrapnel penetrated the wall of a house 300 feet away, police said. Five people were injured and three of them were hospitalized.

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