PELHAM, N.H. — A cache of fireworks ignited and exploded inside a home here Tuesday night, injuring nine people, including two children who were airlifted to Boston hospitals, police and neighbors said.
Pelham police said that the house at 40 Dodge Road caught fire at about 7:30 p.m. and that “a large amount of fireworks were located in and around the home.”
The initial report was that “fireworks blew up in the home and that the house was filled with smoke,” the statement said.
The fire was extinguished, and the nine victims, ranging in age from infant to adult, were taken to various hospitals, police said. The victims’ conditions could not be determined Tuesday night.
“It [the blaze] just looked like fireworks, like a large firework,” said neighbor Mary Jackson, 45, near the scene. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Jackson and her daughter, Molly, 11, reported seeing red, white, and blue flames, as well as black smoke.
Several people rushed out of the house crying and screaming for help, they said.
Jackson said one of the children airlifted to Boston was a 3-year-old named Ben, the grandson of the homeowners, Christopher and Jeannie Pappathan.
She said the Pappathans have put on a Fourth of July fireworks display for neighbors every year for at least a decade.
“It’s always so much fun,” Molly Jackson said.
Pelham Fire Lieutenant Greg Atwood said that at least six firetrucks, four ambulances, and two medical helicopters responded to the two-alarm blaze, which was put out in a short amount of time.
Atwood said he had no information on how the fireworks ignited or the nature and extent of the victims’ injuries.
No firefighters were injured, according to Atwood.
He said the house did not appear to be a total loss, and most of the damage was in the rear of the building. Asked if he had ever seen a comparable incident during his 14 years on the job, Atwood said no.
Kathy Pappathan, Ben’s grandmother, said he was taken to Shriners Hospitals for Children for severe burns. A Shriners worker said no one was available for comment late Tuesday night.
“His entire body has been burned,” Kathy Pappathan said. “It’s devastating.”
She said that her daughter, Jessica Pappathan-Bertini, had been treated and released from the hospital.
“My daughter just asked for everyone’s prayers to go out to Ben,” Kathy Pappathan said.
She described her grandson as an “energetic” and “sweet” boy who loves to sing. The family plans to celebrate his third birthday on Labor Day weekend.
Molly Jackson expressed concern for the welfare of all the injured parties, especially Ben.
“We just hope they all get better,” she said.
Authorities said the fire remains under investigation. Police blocked access to Dodge Road late Tuesday night.Travis Andersen can be reached
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