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Teen suffers second-degree burns when firework explodes in Fallston

A teenager suffered second-degree burns on her legs and fingers Saturday night after an illegal firework exploded in Fallston, state fire investigators said, and the man who was allegedly setting them has been fined.

The accident was reported at 9:44 p.m. in the 1800 block of Brickhouse Lane, according to Jenn Chenworth, spokesperson for the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Association.

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The girl and her family were watching an illegal fireworks display in the neighborhood, Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver Alkire, spokesperson for the State Fire Marshal's Office, said in a news release.

Investigators determined that Jeffrey S. Hoffmann, 51, who also lives in the 1800 block of Brickhouse Lane, was igniting both ground-based and aerial fireworks when a stray aerial firework did not launch properly. It exploded in the front of the girl as she was sitting on the ground, approximately 25 feet away, Alkire said.

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In an effort to provide medical aid, the teen's father placed her in the home's swimming pool, he said.

Emergency personnel from Fallston Volunteer Fire & Ambulance Company responded and took the teenager to Johns Hopkins Hospital Pediatric Burn Unit in Baltimore with second-degree burns to approximately 9 percent of her legs and fingers, according to the Fire & EMS Association. Chenworth said the girl was in serious condition.

More information on the girl's condition was not available Monday.

Deputy state fire marshals determined the aerial fireworks that injured the teen were purchased in Pennsylvania. Investigators issued Hoffman criminal citations totaling $500 for the discharge and possession of fireworks without a permit, according to Alkire.

"Every year Marylanders are injured by fireworks. By acting responsibly, we can help eliminate injuries. I would again highly suggest the safest way to enjoy fireworks is to attend one of the many public displays throughout the state," State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci said in a statement.

Alkire noted Monday that, while a rocket is designed to go in the air, "once it leaves that tube, it can go anywhere."

He said the Fire Marshal's Office encourages Maryland residents to attend public fireworks displays rather then setting them off on their own.

He stressed that the only fireworks that can be shot off in Harford County are those that are sold in Harford County stores, which are inspected by the Fire Marshal's Office each year around Independence Day.

"If you need to cross the county line, or if you cross the state line [to buy fireworks], those fireworks are illegal," Alkire said. "That's the easiest way to remember, that's the rule of thumb."

Aegis staff members Erika Butler and David Anderson contributed to this article.

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