Man injured by homemade "sparkler bomb" in early morning hours of Fourth of July

by: KIRO 7 STAFF Updated:

RENTON, Wash. - The Fourth of July got off to an explosive start near Renton after King County Sheriff's deputies said a 26-year-old man set off an illegal sparkler bomb that severely injured him and shook the whole neighborhood.

"It sounded like a big stick of dynamite," said Richard Hansen, who lives in the apartments off Southeast 176th Street. "Shook the whole building."

Deputies said the man was attending a party at Villa Townhomes. Just before 4:30 a.m. he went out into the street with family and friends to light the homemade explosive, deputies said. It exploded quickly and family and friends rushed in to help him.

A sparkler bomb consists of dozens of sparklers wrapped up together and lit simultaneously. Sparklers on their own are very tame but when wrapped together create an explosive device.

A KIRO 7 crew found metal wiring from the sparklers stuck in a tree more than 100 feet from the explosion. Deputies said they found debris as far as 125 feet away. Nobody else was injured but neighbors aren't happy.

"(It was very) stupid," said Hansen. "I don't even buy fireworks anymore. (It's) not worth losing a hand or something."

It's a lesson firefighters constantly preach, but one that some insist on learning the hard way.

"When you create something, you have no idea how long it will take for it to explode," said Renton Fire Battalion Chief Kevin Anderson. "You may not have time to stay away from what you've lit and you can be caught in the blast and be severely injured."

The man who set off the sparkler bomb suffered open fractures to his left leg and a deep penetrating wound to his left arm. As of Thursday afternoon he was in critical condition at Harborview Medical Center.

He may face felony charges. Deputies pointed out that it is a Class C felony to convert common fireworks into something that creates an explosion.

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