Abandoned outside New London
By Scott Bellile
MUKWA – The Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a sparkler bomb that was left in a ditch in the town of Mukwa on Monday, May 22.
The sparkler bomb could have seriously injured a passerby or started a grass fire, New London Fire Capt. Bernie Ritchie said.
Sparkler bombs are bundles of sparkler fireworks that people tape together before lighting them.
New London police officer Ben Schmidt discovered the abandoned sparkler bomb smoking just before 8 p.m. while driving on Klatt Road west of New London High School. A report from the sheriff’s office described the sight as looking like “dynamite wrapped in electrical tape.”
“The sparkler bomb had been lit and had already blew open by the time the officer found it,” said Don Conat, captain for New London Fire Department and detective for Waupaca County. “That is why the New London police officer noticed the smoke coming from the ditch and found the device. All of the sparklers had already burned up. That is why the [Brown-Outagamie County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad] wasn’t called. The device had already rendered itself safe.”
New London Fire Department was called to the scene. Ritchie said he observed the sparklers were 6 to 8 inches long and wrapped in a bundle about the diameter of a quarter.
Conat said investigators do not have any suspects yet.
“Anyone with info as to who made the explosive device should contact the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Department at 715-258-4466 or can remain anonymous by contacting Waupaca County Crime Stoppers by texting your tip to 274637 or going to [the] website Waupacacountycrimestoppers.org,” Conat said.
Possession of an improvised explosive device is a Class H Felony under Wisconsin state statutes.
Throughout the country, serious injuries have resulted from sparkler bombs in recent years including:
- A 15-year-old Texas boy lost his lower leg from a bomb of about 180 sparklers in 2016
- A 14-year-old boy in Indiana lost a hand in 2016
- A 12-year-old Washington boy suffered burns to 25 percent of his body after a sparkler bomb exploded in his face in 2015
- In 2014, an Ohio man received a laceration to his ankle that nearly detached it after he combined two packs of sparklers, put them in the refrigerator and lit them
- In 2012, a 19-year-old man in Louisiana blew off his hand and two fingers, suffered severe burns to his arms and legs and blew out the windows of three nearby vehicles after he lit a 144-sparkler bomb
Ritchie offered his own piece of sparkler bomb safety advice: “Don’t play with them, period.”
This story was updated on May 25 to correct previously reported information that the sparkler bomb had not exploded.