Fireworks hit Sabattus man in face

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.

View Reported fireworks-related injuries and fires in a larger map

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

Al & KIM,

You reminded me of a fireworks display gone wild back when I was in high school.
A friend of mine invited me to spend the 4th with his family on their boat at the Charles River Esplanade in Boston. Along with the Boston Pops, was what was to be the largest firework to be set off in the country. The barge where the fireworks were fired from was quite a ways away. When the finale finally started everyone waited for that large rocket. They were right, it was huge. Problem was it only went up about ten feet before exploding. We could feel it on the boat and it blew everyone on an adjacent barge into the water. No one got hurt, but I don't think I ever laughed so hard. I know that sounds cruel but, I was eighteen and we had been drinking beer all day, it was funny....

Expect more injuries

Well this is the kind of injuries we can expect with the legalization of fireworks...too many will lose fingers and eyes and who knows what else. If this was a man trained in the use of fireworks, then I shudder to think what will happen in the hands of an untrained man or kid that thinks these are just glorified sizzlers. How many will be injured before the gov. thinks his job creation was a big mistake??

Kim Waite's picture

The way the law is written...

....anyone (trained or untrained) can have their own fireworks show on their own property! So safe (sarcasm). *rolling eyes*

Kim Waite's picture

If the city of Portland years ago...

...can have a meltdown of their fireworks (all of them went off at the same time and the show was over in less than 40 seconds), then that means the average Joe in Maine is not qualified to handle the simplest of fireworks and is not prepared for the same kind of situation.

If Beech Ridge Motor Speedway years ago set a tree on fire during their half-time fireworks because of the fireworks went off course and into the woods near the track, then that means the average Joe of Maine is not qualified or trusted to not burn down their own house or their neighbors.

My neighbors have consistently set off fireworks in recent weeks and I always cross my fingers that a child doesn't get hurt even in the slightest. I will laugh, however, if an adult blows his or her face/fingers off! Seriously....

AL PELLETIER's picture

Countless fires

Kim, I also remember a fire started by the professionals putting on a fireworks display over the Androscoggin between L-A several years ago. Every 4th of July you hear about fires and injuries caused by pyrotechnic professionals. Now that these bombs, rockets and flame throwers are ready available to amateurs these incidences can only increase. Thanks for making me feel safer there Gov..

Kim Waite's picture

Exactly Al.

People will say, "It's the operator's fault for not reading the manual!", but there are times when the fireworks itself wasn't packed correctly and causes great injury. If the professionals can get badly hurt, what do you think will happen when Ma & Pa Kettle have a few drinks and set some explosives off? Can't be good.

Kim Waite's picture

I heard a report

on radio news yesterday that here in Maine some fireworks exploded that were stored under the porch of a house! A child got hurt. Ugh. See? You don't have to light them off to be dangerous!

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Mr Aho, thats the problem...

The problem with a lot of things, Fireworks, driving, even barbequing, require a certain amount of common sense. Just because something requires common sense, doesn't mean it will happen. I've written , read and re-read, posts this past week regarding the use and abuse of fireworks. I've been everything but ridiculed for trying to describe incidents that I have witnessed. I may be only 54 years old, but I've been around the block way to many times. I happen to enjoy fireworks, I also could care less if their legal or not. Using fireworks isn't exactly my idea of fun, however, watching others attempt to use them is. When I see people, or in some cases hear them late at night, dangerously illegally and in most cases stupidly using fireworks, I can't help but say something. I just feel its a polite thing to do, to try and prevent someone from unnecessarily blowing their own or someone elses head off. I've seen it first hand. Not heads blown off, but I saw a guy get his arm blown off at a keg party I attended in a New Jersey gravel pit. I was at a camp ground in up state New York and saw three young children get shrapnel injuries from a military type flare thrown into a bonfire. These are the types of stupidity that attract headlines. These activities also get the laws changed. I don't want to preach to anyone, but it didn't take to long for someone to damn near blow his face off. Two things will go a long way to keeping fireworks enjoyable to everyone. Sobriety and common sense.

AL PELLETIER's picture

Good post, Frank

I witnessed my cousin loose 2 fingers to a cherry bomb when we were teenagers. I am old enough to remember many mishaps, fires,
loss limbs and deaths prior to the fireworks ban. THIS IS WHY THEY WERE BANNED!!
I live on a hill just east of North Pond in Norway and the prevailing wind always blows from the pond towards my home. Come the evening of the 4rth, all I'll have to defend my home are two garden hoses. Some locals and the Yahoos from away will be lighting the sky and I'll be afraid to sleep knowing my home could be in eminent danger. Thank you Lepage!

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Same here, Al

I live in a neighborhood surrounded by huge pine trees and homes close together. Even though Brunswick banned fireworks, that won't stop the drunken and drugged idiots who care nothing about anything or anyone except their quest for kicks. They will be roaming around in cars or on foot, throwing them carelessly about without a thought of a dangerous fire they could start.

I hope it rains like hell on the fourth and into the weekend. That'll slow 'em down. Not.

What I really hope is no kid is injured.

Good luck defending your home, Al.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Al, I should have read on the first time

I just read of a building on fire on Congress St. in Portland. Started by children trying to light sparklers with a toaster oven. Do you get the same idea that I do? I left out one little thing in my last post. Sobriety common sense, and PARENTAL SUPERVISION.....

Kim Waite's picture

If I'm not mistaken...

...the mother wasn't too far away. This story proves how quickly a fire can start and spread just with the littlest of ignition.

 's picture

Oh no, we should defiantly

Oh no, we should defiantly ban them right away. How could we allow such a thing in our society here in Maine.

I firgured I'd get to it before someone else did. :)

JOANNE MOORE's picture


'Cause we have an idiot for governor.

 's picture

Re: An Idiot for governor?

The governor isn't the one who tried to dry out fireworks with a blowtorch.

Agree 100%

I agree with you Joanne. This is the only job I see this idiot has created and he seems so proud of it. I hope he plans on visiting the people that are injured because of his law to legalize fireworks. Wonder what he would have to say.. He certainly has plenty to say about everything else, but not many solutions. Can't wait till he is out, because he is an embarrassment to this state.

 's picture

Cheer up.

More eye injuries and blown off fingers to come - mostly to kids.

 's picture

I sure hope that's sarcasm

I sure hope that's sarcasm that I detect :)

The thing is there are safety rules that must be followed when using fireworks and it appears that they weren't observed.
While it's disturbing that someone was injured if a little common sense was employed this would not have happened.

Usually ignored

The thing is most rules are ignored, and when you have a day off for a holiday, booze is usually added to the mix...we all know what happens when the drinking starts....the common sense goes out the window.

 's picture

Actually that is the farthest

Actually that is the farthest thing from the truth. Many people use fireworks in a safe manner and as recent statistics show the while use has increased injury rates have decreased.
You are always going to have people who don't follow rules but they are in the minority and to punish those who do operate in a safe manner just because of a few is asinine.

 's picture

Defiantly a lot of sarcasm, I

Defiantly a lot of sarcasm, I just figured I'd beat the anti fireworks people to the punch. :)

No sarcasm

I like watching fireworks as much as anyone else, but when it is done by trained people. This has allowed fireworks to get into the hands of drunks and the kids of drunks, and how will it feel to read about the kids that are injured with these fireworks? I think you used the wrong word here with "anti fireworks people"


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