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Missouri Boys Lose Fingers in Fireworks Accident

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Two boys had parts of their hands blown off by a large firework Friday night.

Emergency crews responded around 9 p.m. to the 800 block of Demaret Drive, just east of Columbia, where they located the two victims, boys ages 14 and 11, said Gale Blomenkamp, public information officer for the Boone County Fire Protection District.

Crews treated the boys and took them to University Hospital for treatment of traumatic injuries to their hands, which appeared to be missing portions of flesh, including fingers.

The full extent of the boys' injuries was unclear at the scene, Blomenkamp said.

The victims apparently were attempting to stuff a large firework into a nearby pipe, said Sgt. David Alexander of the Boone County Sheriff's Department. No arrests have been made, but an investigation is ongoing.

The firework came from another child in the neighborhood who attempted to fire it, Alexander said. The large bottle rocket was believed to be a dud, he said, because the wooden portion meant to stabilize it in a bottle was broken off.

One of the boys was holding the device while the other attempted to light it, he said, and the short fuse burned faster than they expected and exploded.

Deputies were investigating whether the boys, who are not related, were under proper supervision, Alexander said. Their parents apparently did not know the children had the firework and were in one of their homes right before the accident, he said.

"It all happened very sudden," Alexander said.

Demaret Drive landlord Steve Meyerhardt said he was working on a tenant's air conditioner Friday night when he heard a large booming sound. He saw emergency crews at the scene as he was leaving the area.

"It was as loud as an aerial bomb like during the city's fireworks show," he said.



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