ST. MARY’S COUNTY, MD — A 26-year-old man from St. Mary’s County was killed early Saturday morning after a firework he was holding exploded. This marks the second fireworks-related death in Maryland this year, underscoring renewed concerns over the safety of using fireworks at home.

Deputy State Fire Marshals responded to an incident at around 2:45 a.m. on the 19900 block of Poplar Hill Creek Lane in Leonardtown. William Michael McFann of Piney Point was pronounced dead at the scene upon the arrival of Emergency Medical Services (EMS). An investigation revealed that McFann had placed a fireworks mortar tube on his upper chest and tried to ignite it, leading to a fatal explosion.

This incident follows another tragic event that occurred a few months earlier. On July 5, at around 9:00 p.m., authorities from the Office of the State Fire Marshal and the Charles County Sheriff’s Office were called to Bannister Circle in Waldorf. A caller had reported that a man was injured while setting off fireworks. Damon Hammond, 20, later died from severe injuries to his chest and hand after a mortar he was holding exploded.

State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci emphasized the risks involved in handling fireworks. “A family’s life has been changed forever, and this is a tragic reminder that fireworks should be left to the professionals,” Geraci said. “I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many public fireworks displays throughout the state.”

Both cases have sparked a broader conversation among state officials and safety experts about the dangers of using fireworks at home. The commonality in these incidents—a mortar tube placed close to the chest—suggests a pattern of risky behavior with fatal consequences.

Fireworks are a popular way to celebrate various occasions in the United States, especially around the Fourth of July. However, mishandling fireworks can lead to severe injuries and even death, as evidenced by these recent tragedies.

State agencies and local fire departments are now stepping up their public awareness campaigns to educate the public about the safe use of fireworks. These campaigns often stress that fireworks should only be used under the supervision of trained professionals to prevent further accidents and fatalities.

The repeated incidents also raise questions about whether existing laws and regulations governing the sale and use of fireworks are sufficient or if further action is needed to mitigate the risks involved. Currently, the State of Maryland allows the use of ground-based sparkling devices, such as fountains, gold-labeled sparklers, and ground spinners, but aerial fireworks are generally prohibited for public use.

As communities across Maryland continue to grapple with the aftermath of these tragic incidents, the message from state authorities remains clear: leave fireworks to the professionals to ensure everyone’s safety.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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