(Editor’s note: Graphic content contained in video and story)
BUTTE – Fireworks are fun for many people, but one Butte man learned last year that one moment of carelessness can make fireworks very dangerous.
Last July 6th, Justin Kraus picked up a firework that he thought wasn’t lit.
“After my buddy heard it hissing, and I sort of heard it too, and I went to drop it and right about when I got it out like that – boom!” said Kraus.
The unexpected explosion cost him half of his left hand.
“Shell shocked a little bit, it took me a minute to realize that it had happened, it blew out the window – I was standing next to the car – it blew out the window of the car,” Kraus recalled.
“Sat in the car and then I felt my leg getting wet and there was blood and a little bit of meat and when I picked up my hand where the fingers, it was split just like that and those fingers just sort of fell down.”
Justin had to undergo three surgeries and months of rehabilitation. In December, he was able to return to his window washing job.
“I can’t use my left hand as much with stuff, I’m still working on getting to where I can use it, but the right arm definitely getting strong,” said Kraus.
One takes what is called an artillery shell, puts it into the cannon, pulls the wick out, lights it and stands back. The firework produces quite a bang and even though Justin suffered a life-changing injury, he still counts himself lucky.
“It could have turned out a lot worse I’m pretty fortunate to end up with what I did, you know, and, I think, if it happened ten times over with ten different people, I think mine’s probably one of the better results,” said Kraus.
While Justin was never reckless with fireworks, he adds that his accident shows that you can never be too cautious when handling fireworks.
“You know that one instance, you know, of being stupid about it really, not being careful is the time that that’s all it takes,” he said.
Despite his injury, Kraus said he plans to use fireworks this year, but will be extra careful.
-John Emeigh reporting for MTN News