MERIDEN — After a series of fireworks-related incidents over the past weekend, city officials are urging residents to be cautious when handling legal fireworks, like sparklers and fountains, and to avoid using illegal fireworks.
The recent reports include a June 26 incident on Maple Street involving an 18-year-old city resident who authorities say detonated an illegal firework that had a short fuse, and suffered burns to his hands and legs.
That incident was followed by unrelated incidents over the weekend, including separate garbage and dumpster fires on Broad Street and on East Main Street. Officials say sparklers, which are legal in Connecticut, appear to have caused each of those fires after being disposed of improperly. Dispatch records for those incidents, including their dates and times, were not immediately available on Tuesday.
One of the fires, which occurred at 816 Broad St., extended from the garbage containers where it originated to a vehicle parked nearby, said Fire Marshal John Yacovino.
The fires and the Maple Street incident are still under investigation.
A redacted police report released this week details the June 26 incident, which occurred at 42 Maple St., just before 5 p.m.
Police did not name the victim in their report, describing him as an 18-year-old male.
Police do not appear to believe the victim purchased the firework. He told fire investigators he found the item, which was likely previously — but not fully — detonated, on the side of the road, at the corner of Maple and West Main streets, the police report states.
The victim took the firework to the residence at 42 Maple St., where he set the firework on a table in backyard and ignited it, police said.
The firework exploded, causing burns to a hand and multiple small holes to the victim's legs, according to police.
Because of the nature of the burns, the teen was taken by ambulance to Bridgeport Hospital's Connecticut Burn Center. Police, upon speaking with hospital medical staff, learned the teen was in stable condition, and communicated with the victim's parents via a Facetime video call.
Police Sgt. Darrin McKay said Yacovino is expected to release a separate report on the incident.
The possession, sale or use of illegal fireworks is a class C misdemeanor, subject to up to one year imprisonment, a $2,000 fine, or both. If injury results from a fireworks violation, that penalty can be increased to a 10-year prison sentence, a $10,000 fine — or both.
Officials have not filed charges in the Maple Street incident.
Yacovino recommended if residents use legal sparklers and fountains that they soak those items for at least 24 hours in water after they have extinguished to ensure they are fully cooled down. Residents should double wrap those items in plastic bags before tossing them in the garbage.
If residents come across illegal fireworks tossed on the street or improperly disposed of in the garbage, they should call the fire marshal's office or police for disposal, Yacovino said.
Either department would then need to notifiy the Connecticut State Police Bomb Squad to fully detonate and dispose of an illegal firework.
“That's the only way we can legally dispose of it,” Yacovino said.