Image: Flickr/Eric Astrom
Americans know the best way to celebrate Independence Day is to terrorize your friends, neighbors, and loved ones with foolish pyrotechnic stunts.What is the Fourth of July without setting yourself on fire or writing “PENIS” in the air with a sparkler? Just as this nation declared its independence in 1776, so too will you declare your freedom to explode this homemade bottle rocket despite the protests from everyone else at the barbeque.
So in observation of America’s deadliest holiday, I’ve compiled an uncomprehensive list of fireworks accidents from around the world—some tragic, some stupid, and some just funny. (But seriously, consumer fireworks are banned in many states and for good reason, and you should brush up on your own local laws.)
In 2015, Noticias Caracol photojournalist Carlos Espinoza bravely filmed the explosion of a fireworks factory in Granada, Colombia. Five buildings that were used to store gunpowder (why???) were also set off. Evidently, the force was strong enough to knock Espinoza off his feet.Two people were reportedly injured at the time, according to Huffington Post, along with a motorist who suffered shrapnel wounds while driving past the explosion. Seventeen homes were also damaged, said the Associated Press. It’s still unclear as to what caused the blast.
Fireworks factory explosion in Colombia
A 21-year-old Brooklyn man lost his right finger after some fireworks exploded in his hand. The unnamed victim was reportedly smoking a cigar at the time. (He originally told police that a radio he was holding combusted, “but cops found the radio, which was undamaged,” according to New York Daily News.) As for the finger, it was found closeby on a suitcase.
Smoking man sets off firework in own hand
Child drops firecracker on a manhole, flies through the air
A boy was hurtled ten feet into the air after lighting a firecracker on top of a manhole, according to the UK’s Independent. The accident occurred in China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and was captured on CCTV footage. The explosion was reportedly caused by a buildup of biogas in the sewers, which threw the nine-year-old onto a nearby car. Doctors said he sustained severe head injuries and broken bones.
Australians were terrorized by a fireworks show that borked on New Years Eve this year. Thousands of viewers—congregated on Terrigal Beach, New South Wales—fled as the explosives misfired in their direction. A burst canister likely caused “multiple detonations,” reported BBC. Two pyrotechnicians were treated for minor injuries, but the show’s optimistic organizers said it all “went pretty well.”
Fireworks shoot in wrong direction at Australian bystanders
In 2016, a dog dutifully returned a Chicago man’s hand that was blown off by a firecracker. Resident Cheri Steigert had let her pup out, only to see it return with…not a tennis ball. The appendage belonged to a 39-year-old barber named Rafat Shejaeya. According to KRON-TV, Shejaeya had “equivalent of a half-stick of dynamite explode near him.”
Dog retrieves man’s hand after fireworks explode
Earlier this year, a cache of 600 sparkers were ignited in a Texas man’s trunk. Hurara Hassan, “was in a parking lot showing friends all the fireworks he planned to light at midnight” when someone lit a rocket nearby, reported WDRB. The car only sustained minor paint damage, and a video of the accident went viral on Facebook. So all in all, a pretty good night.
600 fireworks go off in man’s trunk
A rogue firework grazed the butt of NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Austin Dillon at a North Carolina race in 2015. According to Jalopnik, Dillon’s ass got singed as the explosive fell from the sky. The car was okay.
Celebrations torch a NASCAR driver’s butt
San Diego fireworks show exploded in 15 seconds, ruining show.