RICHMOND — A Sabattus man was injured June 30 during a private fireworks show for a birthday party, according to a release issued by Sgt. Ken Grimes in the Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal.
Jason Douglass, 34, of Ben's Hill Road received a large laceration to his forehead that took 17 stitches to close and a minor eye injury when a shell from a malfunctioning cake fired, striking Douglass in the head at a party on Lancaster Road in Richmond.
Douglass was setting off fireworks Saturday night on the front lawn of a relative’s house, according to Grimes. He lit off a cake of fireworks, which has multiple tubes in the same package.
After the cake had fired, Douglass was dousing it with water when he noticed that three of the tubes didn’t go off, said Grimes.
“One went off before he expected it and it hit him in the head, right above the right eye,” Grimes said. “He had quite a large laceration to his forehead as well as a possible eye injury.”
Grimes said it’s the most significant injury because of fireworks he's seen in quite some time, he said.
“We’ve had smaller incidents, but I haven’t seen an injury of this magnitude for the past several years,” said Grimes.
The accident is the first to be reported by state officials following a recent law change that made consumer fireworks legal in Maine.
Douglass was taken to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, where he was treated and released. He required 17 stitches above his right eye.
Grimes asked those using fireworks to use extra caution.
“Please follow the directions on the devices,” said Grimes. “Be aware of your surroundings and have a safe Fourth of July.”
Douglass' wife, Alison, said Monday that her husband was resting after the ordeal. A recent visit to an eye doctor confirmed the injury would not permanently affect his vison "other than missing eyelashes," she said.
"We're all still reeling from what could have happened," she said. "We're extremely grateful that he's going to be OK and make a full recovery."
Douglass had brought the fireworks to his brother-in-law's birthday party at the home of family friends. He was experienced with fireworks and had familiarized himself with the instructions, his wife said.
"He freely admits he made a bad decision," she said.
She said the main concern for her and her husband is that people who use fireworks take the time to learn how to use them. Even though her husband was familiar with fireworks and had not been drinking, accidents can still happen, she said, urging others to use them responsibly.
The proper technique for extinguishing fireworks that failed to discharge is to soak them in water from a distance and wait for a couple of days before handling, Grimes said. All instructions included in packaging should be followed.
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