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Garage fire blamed on sparklers

Fire chief urges safety in handling fireworks

Fireworks safety tips:

• Read, understand and follow each device’s instructions.

• Use fireworks with close adult supervision.

• Choose a safe place to use fireworks, far from anything that could be damaged from devices’ normal or abnormal operation. They only should be ignited outdoors away from animals, buildings, storage tanks, brush or combustible items.

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• Keep fireworks away from small children.

• Don’t carry fireworks in your pocket or on you.

• Store fireworks in a cool, dry location away from ignition sources, such as heat and flames.

• Eye protection is recommended for those using fireworks.

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

Two boys lighting sparklers Monday night on the roof of a southwest Austin garage led to the structure catching on fire.

Austin Fire Chief Dan Wilson is using the incident to urge people to be cautious and use safety guidelines if they choose to handle fireworks, especially with Independence Day coming next week.

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"This is what happens when they legalize fireworks in Minnesota," Wilson said of Monday’s fire.

Firefighters responded about 11:05 p.m. Monday to a single-stall, detached garage fire at 1017 10th Ave. S.W., Police Chief Paul Philipp said. An unknown person riding a bicycle saw the fire and knocked on the door to tell the renter.

Officers tried unsuccessfully to put out the blaze with fire extinguishers before firefighters arrived.

A woman renting the home told police that her son and a friend — both 12-year-old boys — were lighting sparklers, which are legal in Minnesota, while sitting on the garage’s roof about 30 minutes before the passerby noticed the fire, Philipp said.

Remnants of a bird’s nest might have started on fire from the sparklers, Philipp said.

The garage sustained significant damage, mainly to its upper level, Wilson said. Most of the contents inside were salvageable, he added.

If people are going to use fireworks, Wilson said, adults should be lighting them, not children.

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