PELHAM, N.H. — Three of five children burned in a horrific fireworks explosion at a Dodge Road home were taken to Shriners, a Boston hospital that specializes in pediatric burn treatment.
Some 90 cases of fireworks were removed yesterday from 40 Dodge Road, the home of Christopher and Jeannie Pappathan, where the explosion and fire occurred at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Christopher Pappathan was among the adults injured in the pre-July 4 blast.
It's still unclear why the fireworks exploded on the rear deck of the home injuring 11 people, 6 adults and 5 children.
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.
All but two adults injured were released from area hospitals by noontime yesterday. Two children were taken by their parents to local hospitals, where they were treated and released. However, the remaining three children hurt are at Shriners Hospital for Children, police Lt. Brian McCarthy said at a noontime press conference yesterday.
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 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.
Bertini, 32, also suffered burns but has been released from the hospital and is by Ben's side.
"She's out of her mind," said Harrington. One of the fireworks lodged itself in the boy's arm, he said.
David Cook wasn't at the party last night, but his 8-month-old granddaughter and daughter were.
Cook said yesterday morning that granddaughter Olivia was at Shriners Hospital being treated for burns, but that she will be "OK."
His daughter was in surgery yesterday morning at a Boston hospital after suffering severe burns to her chest, Cook 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. Neighbors said the family regularly had an annual party, with fireworks, to celebrate the July 4 holiday.
The Pappathans own an insurance agency in town and Jeannie Pappathan runs a beauty salon out of their home.
Dozens of small orange flags dot the back yard of the large home, marking the spots of debris from the explosion that rocked the neighborhood.
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."
Yesterday, state and local police and state fire marshal's were still at the house. Firefighters removed fireworks from the home. More remained inside but at this point all appear to be legal, officials said.
Tuesday night, two children who suffered "severe" burns were taken by medical helicopters to Boston hospitals with "potentially" life-threatening injuries. Midgley said both were alert and conscious at the time.
Other victims, including at least other child and including homeowner Christopher Pappathan, were taken by ambulance to hospitals in Nashua and Methuen. Midgley described their injuries as "mild to moderate."
Police Wednesday said two people later drove themselves to local hospitals for treatment and two more were treated after going to the police station to give statements.
It's unknown how many people were at the party, but officials said both sides of the quiet residential neighborhood were lined with cars. They also said it was fortunate the incident occurred when the town was preparing to set off its own fireworks show last night, so all emergency personnel were nearby.
Midgley said this incident as a "perfect example" of why he is not a fan of fireworks.
"Well meaning people were trying to have fun and an accident happened causing a great deal of injuries to children and adults," he said. "This is a tragedy that most likely could have been prevented had some precautions been taken."
Local police and firefighters along with New Hampshire State Police and the state fire marshal's office are investigating.
It is legal to buy and possess fireworks in New Hampshire, although some towns do regulate their use. Pelham has no restrictions on personal use of fireworks, police said.
Material from the Associated Press and from staff photographer Mary Schwalm was in this story. Jill Harmacinski may be contacted at email@example.com.