BRAVE BOY - Kiran Belgal, 9, was struck by an errant firework during the July 3 Fireworks Jubilee at El Dorado Hills Town Center, suffering a second degree burn to his neck. El Dorado Hills firefighter/paramedics Jason Smith, Dale Hemstalk, Ryan Hathaway and Jeff Cummins, left to right, treated the injury and comforted the boy, who was surprisingly calm throughout the experience. A girl received a lesser injury from the same firework, and was also treated by paramedics at the scene.

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Fireworks shell goes awry, injures boy

By From page A14 | July 6, 2011

One of the aerial displays apparently detonated at a low altitude during the fireworks jubilee at El Dorado Hills Town Center on July 3, sending hot embers into the crowd.  There were two reported injuries, the worst of which was Kiran Belgal, 9, who suffered a second-degree burn on his neck.

Kiran, his mother Menka and his sister Anisha, 11, were standing at the rail overlooking the lake between Yoga Berry and Chantara, a seemingly perfect spot to take in the fireworks launched from the field across the lake.

Menka contacted Village Life and said she felt more than saw the incoming embers. “Everyone around us was showered with sparks and what felt like little stones,”  she said. “It sounded like a machine gun.”

Town Center spokeswoman Jamie McDaniels is working with the Belgal family and Rialto-based Pyro Spectaculars, who put on the show, to find out what went wrong.

McDaniels told Village Life in a prepared statement “We regret that an unfortunate accident happened in what was planned and structured to be a safe event. We took all safety measures required and are investigating the incident.”

Pyro Spectaculars is a five-generation family-owned fireworks display company that puts on some of the largest fireworks displays in the country, and has a presence in Shingle Springs. Executives in charge of the El Dorado Hills show have not returned calls from Village Life.

The Belgal family isn’t requesting any damages beyond medical expenses, and has no plans to sue. “My husband said that things like this happen sometimes,” said Menka.

Thus far they’ve incurred an emergency room visit Sunday night ‒ they were there until 1 a.m. ‒ and a couple of follow-up doctor appointments.

Reached by phone, 9-year-old Kiran said he enjoyed the fireworks. He can’t remember the injury, and reported that it hurts when he gets hot. He’s not supposed to bend his neck to the left, where he lost a four inch swath of surface skin.

Doctors instructed Menka to keep her boy out of the sun for now to prevent scarring. He already has foot problems that preclude high impact sports. “Now he’s lost swimming too,” she worried.

Menka was proud of the way Kiran handled the injury and treatment, first at the hands of El Dorado Hills firefighter/paramedics, and later at the emergency room. “He never cried,” she said.

She reported that he kept taking pictures of the fireworks after the incident. “He had no pain at first,” said Menka. “I looked over and saw skin hanging from his neck.”

Menka put the ultimate positive spin on a potentially disastrous situation. “The fireworks picked him out of the crowd,” she said. “He’s a special boy.”

Paramedics also treated a girl with minor burns on Sunday night, but the fire district couldn’t release her name. No other injuries or incidents were reported in an estimated crowd of 20,000, most of whom turned out early for food, music and festivities at what has become the largest community event in El Dorado Hills.

Will they be back for the fireworks next year? “Oh yes, definitely,” said Menka. “But we might stay a little farther back.”

Mike Roberts


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