Several fireworks-related fires, injuries reported throughout Hillsborough County, officials urge caution

Firefighters continued to urge caution around fireworks on Friday following several fireworks-related fires and injuries throughout Hillsborough County.

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue responded to seven fires that were likely started as a result of Fourth of July celebrations.

"They happened because people were shooting fireworks off a little bit too close to structures and houses or discarding them in trash cans when they're still hot," said Deputy Chief Gil Ruyez, with HCFR, adding fireworks that aren't completely doused with water can reignite, causing flames to spread to homes and garages.

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Firefighters believe that's what happened at a home on Arch Rich Loop in Seffner.

Investigators, meanwhile, suspect a clubhouse in Riverview caught fire when firework debris landed on top of it.

"We're recommending that you're in an area that's not close to structures: A bigger field, something that's not going to shoot off and hit the roof of something," said Ruyez, adding, "Make sure that you wet down the firework prior to discarding them."

Doctors at Tampa General Hospital were offering similar advice after treating at least a half dozen children and "countless" adults for injuries sustained celebrating Independence Day.

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"It's not a small thing. It can be life altering," Dr. Keith Thatch, the pediatric surgery and trauma director at Muma Children's Hospital, said of fireworks-related injuries. "We also have a lot of kids, unfortunately, and adults that lose fingers, that lose function of their fingers in their hands and have blast injuries all over their bodies."

Alex Alvarado, 14, was one of the patients who survived a firework mishap and spoke about it with FOX 13.

"I was expecting it to go up, and it didn't go up, so it just stood in the tube [and] exploded," Alvarado said, while recovering at TGH. "I was holding it with my right hand so exploded right there in my face."

Alvarado ended up with a serious hand injury, along with cuts and burns on his face.

"You got to be careful," said Alvarado, who said he learned an important lesson. "You can't be holding big fireworks that go on the ground, because you can really blow up your hand and cause a serious injury."

Experts, including firefighters and doctors, are also urging parents to refrain from allowing their children to handle fireworks, especially unsupervised.


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