Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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July 5, 2012

Fireworks explode at party, 11 injured

PELHAM, N.H. - A horrific fireworks explosion resulted in 11 people receiving injuries, including three children who were rushed to a Boston hospital that specializes in pediatric burn treatment.

Some 90 cases of fireworks were removed Wednesday from the home owned by Christopher and Jeannie Pappathan, where the explosion and fire occurred Tuesday night.

It's still unclear why the fireworks exploded on the rear deck of the home where 6 adults and 5 children were injured.

Fire Chief James Midgley described the incident as "very chaotic," noting crews dealt with both "a fire and a mass casualty situation" at the same time.

The children hurt include an 8-month-old girl, who was burned on 10 percent of her body, and a 2-year-old boy who is now in a medically induced coma, family members said.

The boy "was completely engulfed in flames," said his great-grandfather, Skip Harrington.

Harrington said his granddaughter Jessica Bertini rushed into the fire to rescue her son Ben, who was standing near a large box of fireworks when it exploded.

"She ran through the flames to get him," Harrington said.

Officials wouldn't comment, but some speculated the earlier ignition of fireworks may have sparked the explosion of more fireworks on the home's back deck and underneath it.

According to witnesses, there was a large explosion and then a ball of fire could be seen rising from the back of the two-story colonial home. A large American flag hangs from the home's back deck, which is visibly charred.

The explosion blew one person off the deck, said neighbor Taylor Jackson, 16.

"I heard the explosion and saw this huge orange mushroom cloud," Jackson said. "I saw that cloud and knew it couldn't be good. I was hoping no one got hurt seriously, but they did."

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