Boy burned in blast in guarded condition


A 15-year-old Bel Air boy remained in guarded condition yesterday with second- and third-degree burns to his hands, arms, upper torso, neck and face after he ignited gunpowder from two unexploded July 4th aerial fireworks in his bedroom Monday night, authorities said.

Joshua Steven Rohrbaugh of the 500 block of W. Lane found three of the explosive devices -- each 2 1/2 inches in diameter -- in the woods behind Bel Air High School the day after the town's annual July 4th fireworks display was held there, said W. Faron Taylor, a deputy state fire marshal.

The boy took them to his mobile home and about 6 p.m. Monday, he cut two of them open and poured out the gunpowder on a small table in his bedroom, Mr. Taylor said.

The youth ignited them with a disposable lighter and a flash fire erupted, burning him and setting the bed and carpet on fire.

Mr. Taylor said the boy's shouts awakened his father, Charles, who received minor burn injuries attempting to extinguish the fire after the boy jumped out a window to escape the mobile home.

The youth was flown to the burn unit at Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore.

Mr. Rohrbaugh refused treatment, Mr. Taylor said, and there was minimal damage to the mobile home.

The site for Bel Air's July 4th fireworks display, which must be approved by the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, met all accepted national standards for safety, Mr. Taylor said.

He said the grounds at the high school were carefully inspected that night and the next day for unexploded devices and that some were found.

"It's impossible to find them all if they land in the woods," he said.

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