Man injured by fireworks, authorities say

A man was severely injured by fireworks on the Fourth of July, authorities said.

It was the first in many years that legal fireworks, which are officially dubbed "safe and sane," were permitted in Huntington Beach, but the man was reportedly injured by illegal fireworks.

Huntington Beach Hospital sought the Fire Department's help in transporting the man to the UC Irvine Medical Center in Orange for treatment at 8:55 p.m., said Deputy Fire Marshal Bob Culhane.

"The patient got to Huntington Beach Hospital on his own," Culhane said. "I don't know whether someone drove him or whether he drove himself."

The extent of the man's injuries were not known, but getting transferred to the Medical Center's trauma center indicates the man's injuries were severe and helping him was beyond the community hospital's capacity.

"The fact that they transferred him tells me his injuries are significant enough that something serious had to be done to him," Culhane said.

It was also unclear how the victim was injured.

Meanwhile, 41 people were arrested and booked into the Huntington Beach city jail on the Fourth, seven of whom on suspicion of drunk driving, said Lt. Mitch O'Brien.

The causes of the other arrests varied from possession of marijuana and disorderly conduct to a petty theft and public drunkenness, according to the city's online arrest log.

As usual on the Fourth, the Police Department's phone lines were jammed with calls for services, O'Brien said.

But whether the numbers were significantly higher this year is still being determined, he said.

Sgt. Jim Schoales said Wednesday the department was still compiling the numbers.

"We were incredibly busy on the Fourth of July throughout the entire city," he said, adding that at times the department was 30 to 50 calls behind on service.

Aside from the man injured by illegal fireworks, there were no other major fires or injuries related to fireworks in the city.

In January, when the City Council voted to allow the sale and discharge of "safe and sane" fireworks, both the police and fire chiefs, who opposed lifting the ban, cited evidence showing that the use of illegal fireworks increases in cities that allow the sale and discharge of legal ones.

Early results show that could be the case in Huntington Beach. The fireworks' suppression teams, which consist of two officers and a fire marshal, issued more citations for illegal fireworks than in past years, Culhane said.

The suppression teams issued 29 citations this year versus 21 last year and 24 in 2010, he said.

Authorities also confiscated 165 pounds of illegal fireworks this Fourth of July; only 25 pounds were confiscated last year, and 42 in 2010, Culhane said.

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