(WGHP) — There’s a safe way to enjoy fireworks, and then there are unsafe ways.

Over the last few years, fireworks injuries have spiked in the United States, and North Carolina is no exception.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that about 15,600 people had to go to the emergency room after fireworks-related accidents in 2020, and those were the lucky ones. 18 people died from non-occupational fireworks incidents in the U.S. in 2020, up from 12 in 2019.

It’s no secret that fireworks are extremely dangerous, so let these stories be a reminder:

  • don’t make your own fireworks,
  • make sure to keep an eye out for any stray embers,
  • and always make sure to properly dispose of fireworks when you’re done.

1 dead after explosion at Stokes County home; possible evidence of homemade fireworks found, investigators say

Posted: Jul 7, 2021 / 12:20 PM EDT

STOKES COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — New information has emerged on what was inside a home that burst into flames, killing a man, in Stokes County.

The fire started just before 7 p.m. on July 6, 2021, at a home on Northfield Drive, near King.

Stokes County officials have not publicly released the man’s name yet.

People in the neighborhood believe the victim made bombs and fireworks at his home and sold them.

“Next thing you know, kaboom! It’s not like you hear little firecrackers going off, it’s bombs, “said Angela Varner, whose son lives nearby.

FOX8 obtained the dispatch audio that revealed multiple callers say they heard a loud explosion.

Despite first responders’ quick arrival on the scene, the man who lived there was already dead when they arrived.

It’s something neighbors feared would happen.

“Basically, he’s making bombs in his house,” Varner said.

Varner said her son and daughter-in-law who live across the street called her often to express concern over their neighbor’s previous activity.

“This neighborhood knows what’s going on. They knew that this man was making fireworks in his home,” she said.

Varner arrived shortly after the explosion. She said the large fire crew’s presence made her nervous at first, thinking that it may have been her son’s home.

“Coming around the curb, I was thinking, oh my gosh, I hope Andrew’s (Varner’s son) house isn’t on fire,” she recalled.

George, or “Cowboy” as his neighbors call him, told FOX8 he bought some fireworks from the victim for the Fourth of July celebrations.

“He was making homemade fireworks,” he said.

George said he had a brief conversation with the man who died right before it all happened.

“I told him that if he walked in that house, he’d never walk back out,” George said. “I had a feeling that something was going to happen, and it did.”

He said he found out about the fireworks when he was riding his electric wheelchair down the street and heard a loud bang coming from the victim’s home. That’s when George decided to stock up for the Fourth of July.

“I want to say he got about $40 off of me,” George said.

Fire officials confirm chemicals used to make fireworks were found and removed from the home.

The ATF, State Fire Marshal and Winston-Salem Police Hazardous Unit are all aiding in the investigation.

County officials told FOX8 they are waiting to release the victim’s name pending next of kin notifications.

Asheboro apartment building burns after Independence Day fireworks leave behind embers, fire officials say

Posted: Jul 7, 2020 / 10:16 AM EDT

ASHEBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A fire at an Asheboro apartment complex started with Independence Day fireworks, according to the Asheboro Fire Department.

At about 4 p.m. on July 5, 2020, fire crews responded to a home at the complex. It took about 20 minutes to get the fire under control.

Fire officials brought in gear to keep firefighters hydrated and checked their blood pressure frequently as temperatures reached the mid-90s.

The fire damaged eight units and left 12 people without homes.

No one was injured.

A resident reported smelling smoke hours earlier but didn’t see a fire and thought someone may have been cooking.

The Asheboro Fire Department says the fire was likely accidentally set by fireworks on Saturday night.

A stray ember may have hit a deck and smoldered for some time before the temperature and oxygen levels reached conditions to allow the fire to ignite.

The fire smoldered before catching the vinyl siding and moving up the building. The fire grew once it reached the attic.

AFD estimates damages at $500,000. Tenants lost more than $100,000.

Winston-Salem home catches fire after family sets off New Year’s Eve fireworks in trash can

Posted: Jan 1, 2020 / 06:41 AM EST

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A family’s fireworks celebration ended with their home on fire, according to the Winston-Salem Fire Department.

At about 1:13 a.m. on Jan 1, 2020, firefighters responded to 1805 Center Street.

Fire officials say a family set off legal fireworks in a trashcan but did not properly dispose of them after. The fireworks ignited the trash can and lit the house on fire.

The home did not have smoke alarms but a police officer from the North Carolina School of the Arts saw the fire and helped get word to the family.

The fire was reportedly under control by 2:02 a.m. No one was injured, but six people have been displaced.

It is unclear whether or not the home is a total loss.