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Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Smokey the Bear says...

...this is why you don't play with fireworks.

So it's Sunday and my family is all gathered at my parents home in Brunswick. Come dusk my brother-in-law, Marty and my brother, Chris decide to haul out the less-than-legal stash of fireworks Marty picked up in Georgia earlier this year.

They take all necessary precautions, bucket of water, safe distance from the kids, long lighting mechanism, etc. Things are going smoothly as all the grandkids and some of the neighborhood kids oohh and aahh at the Roman Candles and assorted tricks in Marty's fireworks bag.

But then something goes haywire. He lights two Roman Candles at once and instead of shooting upward, they zoom on a trajectory that is headed smack for the grassy embankment on the other side of the creek that runs along the back of my parent's property.

In a flash, the work explodes and instantly ignites about five little fires in the dry brush. With lightning speed, Marty, Chris, Danny and the older boys sprint down the backyard with Marty and Chris sludging through the muck of the creek.

Danny grabs two buckets of water and races back to the scene while Marty and Chris try to stomp it out. In an unusual twist, it seems none of the guys hear nature's call and can't summon on their personal fire extinguisher to tame the blaze. Fear-induced stage fright, no doubt.

In a matter of about three minutes, the fire is out, Marty and Chris pour the buckets of water over the hot spots and all is well. Had those guys waited only a few seconds more, we would have witnessed a full-fledged brush fire, and most likely a very large fine.

Marty was clearly shook up by the incident and went up to my dad, apologizing profusely for the misfire. He packed up the rest of his stash and then we resorted less spectacular fireworks — sparklers.

It was a good lesson for the kids, all of whom are getting older and more adventuresome, about the dangers of fireworks. As I heard Ryan retelling it to his buddies on Monday I realized that THIS is a Fourth of July they'll remember for a long time.

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