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North Florida Man Dies Making Homemade Fireworks

12/13/2002

TALLAHASSEE - A Wakulla County man died this week while attempting to manufacture homemade fireworks, the State Fire Marshal's Office and the Wakulla County Sheriff's Office have determined.

The explosion and fire Wednesday night at 218 Whitlock Way has been ruled accidental. The man who died has not been identified yet pending autopsy results. Further investigation and laboratory testing of evidence recovered at the scene is being conducted to identify the components that were being used. Personnel from the Capitol Police Bomb Squad assisted the State Fire Marshal's Office Bomb Squad at the scene.

In Florida, only sparklers are legal for the general public to use. The State Fire Marshal's Office's web site at www.fldfs.com includes a list of legal sparklers.

"If it launches or explodes, it's illegal in Florida," State Fire Marshal Tom Gallagher said.

Further, Gallagher said, signing a waiver will not keep you or the seller from possibly facing criminal charges for buying, selling or using fireworks illegally, for which the penalty under Florida law is up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. The violation is a misdemeanor.

Some safety tips for sparklers include:


· Light them on a flat, hard surface. Do not light them on grass.

· Use them in an open area. Keep children and pets at least 30 feet from lit sparklers.

· Light only one item at a time.

· Never attempt to re-light a "dud."

· Do not use any items that are unwrapped or may have been tampered with.

· Have a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water handy for emergencies. Drop used sparklers in the bucket of water.