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First responders prepare for busy Fourth of July night

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AUBURN, Wash. — First responders are preparing for a busy Fourth of July evening. Firefighters across the region are at the ready to respond to fireworks-related fires and injuries.

The holiday weekend began badly when two young boys were sent to the hospital after getting hurt playing with fireworks.

It happened on the Muckleshoot Reservation Monday evening.

Investigators said 12- and 15-year-old cousins were injured: one boy lost two fingers, the other got shrapnel in his arm after handling a firework.

It’s an unfortunate reality around the Fourth of July, as something similar happened in the same area last year.

The McCauley family from Kent came to the Reservation to light some off fireworks, but their father insisted on being in charge.

“I hold the punk, I hold the lighter,” said Jim. “I don’t let them hold any of the fireworks. Everything is on the ground. And we stay away from it. We don’t sit there right hovering over it.”

It happens every year around the Fourth of July, people get injured handling fireworks -- both legal and illegal.

“You don’t even realize the power that you’re holding in your hands,” said McCauley. “For little kids, they have no understanding.”

A recent University of Washington Medicine study found the most serious injuries come from mortar-style explosives -- and a good portion of those hurt were merely bystanders who got in a firework’s path.

“If you are getting fireworks and you’re doing it legally within your area, be safe and watch out for each other,” said Valley Regional Fire Authority’s Ryan Chadwick.

The McCauley family said they will settle for smaller explosions. Jim also said he talks with his kids every year about knowing the dangers fireworks can pose.

“My wife works at a hospital. We talk about the injuries and the types of things people show up with and what can happen when you don’t respect the power of these things,” he said.

By Tuesday afternoon, Harborview Medical Center officials said 10 people had visited their facility so far this year, but expect more patients later in the evening.