Two Youth Injured by Fireworks Sunday

Fire Marshal Urges Safety, Caution in Purchase and Use

DC Fire Marshal Tony Falwell speaks at a July 1 press conference after two youths were injured in the use of illegal fireworks. Image: screenshot @DCFireAndEMS Facebook

Two youth were significantly injured Sunday by fireworks during early Fourth of July celebrations, said DC Fire Marshal Tony Falwell at a press conference Monday afternoon.

He said the hands of one child were injured, while the other suffered to the hands, face and chest area. One boy lost two fingers and a thumb. “Both injuries were a result of blast injuries that caused significant damage to the individuals,” said Falwell.

“In each case the individuals were holding the firework when they lit the firework, thinking they could get rid of it in a fast motion,” Falwell explained. “But these fuses tend to burn very quick, and that misjudgment can be very costly, and in these particular cases they caused serious injury.”

Falwell said that so far, it was unclear where or from whom the youths had obtained the illegal fireworks. The two are expected to recover from the blast.

The injuries were caused by a M-80 or ‘cherry bomb’ type firework, he said. The fireworks appear to be tubes, with a diameter about an inch and half, with a fuse protruding either from inside the tube or from the side of the tube about halfway down the length. They are illegal in DC.

DC FEMS tweeted the image of an M-80 firework Monday (on left).

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that there were 9,100 fireworks-related emergency department-treated injuries in 2018, with 62 percent of them occurring between June 22 and July 22.

Sparklers Leading Firework Injury Under Five

During that period, firecrackers were the number one cause of injuries, accounting for 19 percent of the estimated injuries. Sparklers accounted for more than half of the total estimated injuries in children under 5 years old.

“Each year, we give young kids sparklers in their hand –and they don’t realize how hot they can burn. Sparklers do cause burns in children,” he said. He reminded parents that they should not let children light fireworks.

Falwell said to stay away from illegally sold fireworks, as the contents and quality of manufacture cannot be guaranteed. If found, illegal fireworks will be confiscated and destroyed by DC FEMS. “We destroyed a truckload of fireworks that we took off the street last year,” he said.

“Don’t buy fireworks from individuals who are selling them from the trunks of their vehicles or from backpacks,” said Falwell, noting that such illegal vending had been seen in the District in past years.

Courtesy DC FEMS

Falwell said that illegal fireworks are anything that explodes, shoots projectile or moves once it lights or emits spark greater than 12 inches in length.

DC FEMS said residents should only buy fireworks that can be purchased from licensed vendors. Falwell said that there are 36 licensed vendors licensed to sell legal fireworks in DC. That list can be viewed below.

“My team is prepared, I know that MPD is prepared –we’ve had shared meetings. I know that we’re ready to take on the task of making sure that the residents have a happy and safe Fourth of July.”

Report the use of illegal fireworks use or sales to the DC Fire Marshals office at (202) 727-1600 for immediate action. If you think someone is in danger of injury, or there is potential for a fire, call 911.

See DC FEMS FAQs on Fireworks at

Fireworks Safety Tips:

  • Always read and follow label directions.
  • Always have an adult present.
  • Only ignite fireworks outdoors.
  • Always have water or sand nearby to extinguish fireworks after use.
  • Never experiment or attempt to make fireworks.
  • Light fireworks one item at a time.
  • Never relight malfunctioning or ‘dud’ fireworks.
  • Store fireworks out of the reach of children.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place.
  • Never throw fireworks at another person.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.
  • Stand at least 15 feet from burning cones and fountains.
  • Do not light fireworks near combustibles, such as gasoline or newspapers.
  • Do not ignite fireworks that have been wet and then dried.
  • Do not light fireworks at any place on the firework besides the fuse.
  • Do not use illegal fireworks.
  • Only use items that have a label clearly listing the manufacturer’s name, address, and safety warnings.

Locations of licensed fireworks vendors in DC:

  • 1720 New York Ave NE
  • 2305 New York Ave NE
  • 4501 Bowen Rd SE
  • 1211 Mount Olivet Rd NE
  • 2200 Fairlawn Ave SE
  • 740 Kenilworth Ave NE
  • 2209 Alabama Ave SE
  • 4665 South Capitol St SW
  • 4321 Nannie H Burroughs Ave NE
  • 4519 Benning Road SE
  • 5010 Benning Road SE
  • 3830 Minnesota Ave N
  • 4675 South Capitol St SW
  • 2801 Alabama Ave SE
  • 6201 New Hamshire Ave NW
  • 1830 Rhode Island Ave NE
  • 4140 Georgia Ave NW
  • 4975 South Dakota Ave NW
  • 415 Rhode Island Ave NE
  • 701 Newton Pl NW
  • 5585a South Dakota Ave NE
  • 3011 Rhode Island Ave NE
  • 4326 Wisconsin Ave NW
  • 4700 South Capitol St SE
  • 4200 Nannie H Burroughs Ave NE
  • 4510 East Capitol St NE
  • 5900 Georgia Ave NW
  • 3515 14th St NW
  • 3700 Martin L King Jr Ave SE
  • 5581 South Dakota Ave NE
  • 3701 New Hampshire Ave NE
  • 1830 Benning Rd NE
  • 1201 Bladensburg Rd NE
  • 1611 Rhode Island Avenue NE