Celebrations Cause Fires, Injuries

The 4th of July was a busy one for metro emergency crews, from fireworks injuries to house fires to unexpected explosions.

Doctors treated 13 fireworks injuries at the Nebraska Medical Center. The count at other area hospitals totaled 40 injuries, including others.

One man was hospitalized when a firework exploded in his hands near 25th and Poppleton. Twenty-six-year-old Jesus Omar-Montes told police he was holding an artillery tube when he lit a shell. Instead of shooting out, the shell exploded in the tube, severely injuring Omar-Montes' hands. A witness said there was no indication something would go wrong. "The (shells) were coming out good, except the last one." Omar-Montes is in serious condition.

There's one instance in Papillion Thursday night that could have ended real ugly. “Truck is on fire, man." At first, it seemed to be part of the show. “Watch out guys! The truck is going to blow." But then it became quite clear this wasn't a finale. The explosion of fireworks came from the back of a pickup. A stray firework ignited the whole bunch.

“A lot of people ran into their backyards and house." Mike Hartin-Kovy lives on Citadel Drive in Papillion, a few houses away from the chaos. “Next thing I know the truck is on fire. The neighbor ran with a hose and we ran with a fire extinguisher and tried to help put it out. Got into the bed and blew up all the fireworks."

The neighborhood was rocked over July 4th last year, too, when spent fireworks that were thrown away ended up burning a home.

“Wow.” We showed the home video to Papillion Fire Chief Bill Bowes. When his firefighters arrived Thursday night, the fire had been put out by residents. “When you look at some of the explosions there, how someone didn't get hurt is amazing. And their quick thinking to put it out with a hose and extinguisher was pretty good, but it looks like they would have put themselves at risk doing that."

The day after was about cleaning up. The pickup looked drivable. A man at the house said he's just thankful no one got hurt in the barrage of fireworks.

The explosions didn't stop the party. Neighbors continued on with the barbecue and festivities that included more fireworks. Without any injuries, residents are now able to look back at what happened with humor. “It was a hell of a finale. If they were trying to battle us, they won."

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