A home-made explosion injured a man at Postmans Ridge.
A home-made explosion injured a man at Postmans Ridge. Nev Madsen

Backyard bomb warning issued

IF THE serious injuries and near-death experiences reported in the media haven’t been convincing enough, then an Ipswich paramedic has a simple warning to anyone wishing to dabble in home-made explosives.

Advance care paramedic John Millwood said backyard bombs, like the ones that had seriously injured Fernvale boy Tori Field and, more recently, Helidon man Warren Allston, were unpredictable in their timing, force and direction.

Scores of young people – mostly American – have posted videos on YouTube of the detonation of devices not too dissimilar to the type which almost killed Mr Allston and Tori.

The most popular is the sparkler bomb, in which large numbers of party sparklers are bunched and held together with electrical tape, with a single sparkler protruding through the top to act as a fuse.

While the online videos show the explosion and the fits of laughter, what they don’t show is what happens when the unexpected occurs.

Mr Millwood said pipe bombs, sparkler bombs and similar home-made explosives were unpredictable by nature.

“We hear of probably one of two incidents per year where someone is injured,” he said.

“The thing is that you don’t have a timed fuse, so once you light it there is always the chance it could go off in your hand.

“It could go off straight away, in two minutes or five minutes, and then you don’t know the direction in which they will go, or whether it will split and break up.

“They can explode with massive force.”

Shrapnel was blamed for the horrendous injuries caused to Tori, 15, who lost part of his hand and lower jaw in a sparkler bomb accident last year.

But even the blast force of a sparkler bomb can be lethal, Mr Millwood warned.

“We’ve already seen in the case out at Fernvale that they can cause horrendous and permanent injuries – they can maim you.”

The Queensland Government’s explosives chief inspector Geoff Downs said the misuse of sparklers was illegal under the Explosives Act. Under Queensland law it is illegal both to make and detonate sparkler bombs.

“The penalties under the Act are a $40,000 maximum fine or six months imprisonment,” Mr Downs said. “In the past five years the police have made 20 prosecutions under the Explosives Act for these types of activities.”

Mr Allston, who sustained life-threatening stomach injuries in the detonation of a home-made bomb at Helidon Spa on Sunday night, is still recovering in Toowoomba Hospital. His condition has improved and he was yesterday classified as stable.

Detectives from Gatton are waiting to speak to him about the device which caused his injuries.

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