EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

July 8, 2014

Pelham fireworks accident worrying among lawmakers and officials

Pelham officials say reloadable mortar shells should be banned

PELHAM — A man seriously injured his hand when he incorrectly loaded a mortar firework similar to one that caused injuries to 13 people in town two years ago.

The 24-year-old man, whose name was not released, was using a reloadable mortar shell kit around 7 p.m. Friday when the blast occurred.

“He put the shell in upside-down, which is common, it happens more than you would think,” fire Chief James Midgley said.

The mortar shell ignited and detonated in the bottom of the tube, which the man was holding.

“Reloadable shells are in the top three consistently every year for pyrotechnic devices that cause injury,” state Fire Marshal J. William Degnan said. “They are pyrotechnics, which are made up of explosive material. When you have a device with an untrained person having to set it up, load it and discharge it; they are more prone to accidents.”

The blast severely damaged to the man’s hand. He was taken from 3 Indian Valley Road, transported to a local hospital, then transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for emergency reconstructive surgery.

“It’s not just a burn,” Midgley said. “It affects the entire hand tissue, bone and vessels.”

The man will go in for a second reconstructive surgery this week, according to Degnan. The first surgery occurred in Boston the night of the accident.

“This is not anything he’s going to recover from overnight,” Midgley said.

Another man was standing next to him and was sprayed with sparks, but did not require medical attention.

The blast is still under investigation. Degnan said there has been no new information since Friday.

“We look at every bit of information as we analyze any of these incidents,” he said. “Our first priority is to figure out how to prevent any others from occurring.”

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