RICHMOND — A Sabatttus man is recovering from what state fire officials describe as the most serious fireworks-related injury since a ban on public use of fireworks was lifted earlier this year.

Jason Douglass, 34, was injured Saturday when a malfunctioning shell fired and hit him in the head, said Sgt. Kenneth Grimes of the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Douglass was taken to Mid-Coast Hospital in Brunswick, where he was treated for injuries to his forehead and an eye.

Douglass wife, Alison Douglass, said her husband has 17 stitches in his forehead, but an eye doctor on Monday determined he suffered no permanent injuries.

“The eye doctor was very pleased,” Alison Douglass said. “We’re so thankful.” 

Jason Douglass works in manufacturing, Alison Douglass said. She was unsure how much time her husband would miss. 

Grimes said Jason Douglass’ injury was the most severe since state lawmakers in January lifted a decades-old ban against the sale and use of fireworks.

“There have been other minor injuries,” Grimes said. “This is the worst I can remember in the last several years that’s happened to a member of the public.” 

The accident occurred around 9:30 p.m. Saturday during a private fireworks show for a birthday party at the Lancaster Road home of Lisa Averill, a family friend of the Douglasses. Jason Douglass ignited a 500 gram cake, which is a container that holds 21 shots that fire into the air.

Grimes said investigators did not know why the shell failed to fire.

“It happens from time to time,” Grimes said.

Alison Douglass said her husband was trying to ignite the unexpired shell when it went off.

“That’s what we don’t want other people to try and do,” she said. “We’ve Monday-morning quarterbacked it a dozen times.” 

Alison Douglass said it appears something hit her husband in the head, which caused him to turn, before the shell exploded.

“He has gashes in his head, but that had to come from something else because there’s not burning with it,” she said.

Jason Douglass, who purchased the fireworks out of state, had dealt with the explosives before, but he may never do so again.

“We’ve turned over what he had to the Fire Marshal’s Office,” Alison Douglass said. “It will be a long time emotionally before we can be around them again. It’s still hitting us how badly this could have turned out.” 

Grimes said it was important to use fireworks according to manufacturers’ specifications, which should be provided by local retailers.

“If they don’t go off you can soak them in water for a day or so and they can be rendered safe,” Grimes said.

He said Douglass was eager to provide investigators with information on how the accident occurred.

“He doesn’t want to see this happen to anyone else, either,” Grimes said.

Alison Douglass said she had never before heard what to do with unexploded fireworks until talking to investigators.

“We want people to be safe,” she said.


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