Teen accidentally sets home in Bel Air on fire with sparkler

June 30, 1994|By Suzanne Loudermilk | Suzanne Loudermilk,Sun Staff Writer

The Fourth of July is several days away, but a Bel Air family already found out this week how dangerous sparklers can be when a spark from one ignited fabrics in a bedroom of their home and caused $3,000 damage.

Deputy State Fire Marshal W. Faron Taylor said a 13-year-old resident of the 100 block of Regent Drive had lighted several sparklers in his bedroom about 10 p.m. Sunday. Minutes later, thinking the sparklers were extinguished, the youth threw them into a trash can and left the room.

Mr. Taylor said a spark from the fireworks ignited linens on a bed. The fire went undetected until the boy's 17-year-old brother smelled smoke and smoke detectors in the home were activated.

Volunteer firefighters from the Bel Air station contained the fire to the bedroom. No one was injured.

Donna Varady, the boy's mother, said she and her husband, Allan, were unaware that their son had sparklers in the house. She said he had bought them at a local store.

"People should be aware what can happen," Mrs. Varady said. "Kids can't buy cigarettes until they're 18, but how can they buy something potentially dangerous?"

The boy's belongings were destroyed in the blaze.

"All the things he treasured are gone, but there could have been a worse scenario," his mother said. "My son didn't think anything would happen. He feels very guilty. . . . . His conscience is his punishment."

Bob Thomas, the state deputy chief fire marshal, offered these precautions for use of sparklers this holiday season:

* Don't light sparklers indoors.

* Don't throw sparklers at anyone. They heat up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can easily ignite clothes and cause second- and third-degree burns on contact with skin.

* Exercise caution when sparklers are used outdoors. The hot showers of sparks can cause grass and brush fires.

* Parents should never give sparklers to children under age 5.

Mr. Taylor noted that only gold label sparklers are legal for sale in Maryland. All fireworks, including those sparklers, are illegal in Montgomery County and Baltimore except for those that are used in displays by licensed personnel. "Gold label" represents the sparklers' chemical composition.

Other types of common, or "class C," fireworks are illegal.

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