Man loses hand after illegal firework goes off

A Medford man had his hand blown off by an illegal firework early today and is now being treated at Oregon Health and Science University, police reported.

Medford police said David Jerald Jenkins, 37, tried to relight a mortar that had failed to ignite in the driveway of a home in the 200 block of Mace Road at 12:22 a.m. The firework only had about one-quarter inch of fuse left and exploded in Jenkins' hand.

"I saw the pictures. It's a devastating injury. A majority of the hand is gone," said Lt. Mike Budreau.

Police said Jenkins and others originally had been attempting to light an aerial-display rocket, which failed.

"They tried to light it, (and) it dudded out," Budreau said. "It didn't launch into the air. It just kind of flew into the driveway."

Police reported that Jenkins removed the explosive mortar from the top of the rocket and put it in his garage. After about two hours of drinking with the others, he came back out and lit the removed shell, resulting in the explosion, police said.

"This is one of the more graphic injuries I've actually seen where somebody has survived," Budreau said.

Jenkins was transported to Providence Medford Medical Center before being transported to OHSU for further treatment. OHSU officials said this afternoon that he is receiving treatment at the hospital, so no word on his condition was available.

Police also cited Jenkins for illegal possession of fireworks, a violation that carries a $250 base fine.

Police have seized a limited amount to illegal fireworks this year as Independence Day approaches. Budreau thinks that will change, as 2012 yielded a particularly high number of confiscations.

"We are really going to have a no-tolerance policy this year," Budreau said. We've been a little loose in years past."

Consumer fireworks that explode, fly into the air, travel more than 6 feet horizontally or travel more than 12 inches vertically from the ignition point are illegal under Oregon law.

— Ryan Pfeil

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