Fireworks negligence the cause of 3 New Haven house fires

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NEW HAVEN --  Three New Haven homes were damaged late Tuesday night by fires ignited by improperly disposed of fireworks, according to the New Haven Fire Department.

One component each of the fires - one on Walnut Street and the other on nearby Woolsey Street - had in common was a large, plastic, garbage cans igniting.

A 45-year resident of one of the burned homes on Walnut Street said he was shocked.

"I was in my room about to go to sleep and then my son came downstairs and said pop fire, fire, fire, fire, fire," said Jose Rivera.

He said he let the store bought fireworks cool off. Then, he hosed them down next to a garbage can, which later ignited. The fire department urges those setting off fireworks to soak them in water, overnight, in metal cans.

"They are put in a cardboard casing or a shell casing and the embers stay deep inside there sometimes," said Mark Vendetto, an Assistant
New Haven Fire Chief. "That's why we recommend that you soak them so it really gets in there and puts them out."

Less than a mile away, on Woolsey Street, another trash receptacle ignited.

"I was basically told that they cleaned up all the fireworks in the street and put them into the trash can right here behind us and they brought it against the house and, maybe an hour after, caught the house on fire," said Edmund Mercuriano, the Woolsey Street landlord of the home that sustained far less damage than the homes on Walnut Street.

He said he was called at home at about 2 a.m., and was told a neighbor brought over a garden hose.

"That saved a lot of damage and obviously the fire department took over from there and got the fire out," said Mercuriano.

As the owner of L & M Electric of North Branford, he was hoping to have power restored for his tenants in the two family home by late Wednesday afternoon.

Only two minor injuries were sustained, both by firefighters. All of the residents got out of the combined three homes involved.