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Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2007

Fireworks death under investigation

July 7, 2007

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— Investigators are trying to find out how a man killed in a fireworks accident acquired a device meant only for professional displays.

Brock Barrett, 25, of Mission, died Tuesday from injuries suffered when a 4-inch mortar went off as he lit fireworks at a family gathering in southern Miami County.

It's illegal to use the mortar device without being a licensed professional, police say, and no one at the party was.

"You've got to have a permit and you've got to be trained to have one," said Miami County Undersheriff Mark Schmidt.

The Kansas State Fire Marshal's Office is investigation, and local authorities also have contacted the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"Consumer devices are normally not that size," said Bill Bowers, director of industry operations for the Kansas City field office of the ATF.

Local fireworks stands that sell standard consumer fireworks to the general public aren't allowed to sell display-grade fireworks, but Schmidt said he didn't think any of the stands serving that area had sold the device in question.

Investigators said such fireworks are sometimes stolen from licensed dealers and operators and can be illegally purchased on the Internet.

Officials, who said it was Miami County's first fireworks fatality in more than two decades, released no other details about the accident.

In Missouri and Kansas, the state fire marshals are in charge of issuing permits, which require training, an exam and a background check. The ATF issues licenses to make, store and transport display-grade fireworks.

In a similar incident in Melvindale, Mich., a 27-year-old mother of three died instantly when a commercial-grade aerial firework exploded in her face. Danialle Barse was trying to set off a 3-inch mortar bomb Monday night. One round - designed to fly 200 to 300 feet in the air before exploding - hit Barse in the face while the other 25 mortars continued to explode in sequence, keeping rescuers at bay, Welch said.

No one there had permission for a fireworks display either, investigators said.

The National Fire Protection Association estimates 9,000 to 10,000 people are treated in emergency rooms annually for fireworks-related injuries.

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