MELBOURNE – Victoria’s growing trade in illegal fireworks has taken a tragic turn after a Melbourne father was killed and paramedics had to treat at least a half a dozen others at New Year’s Eve celebrations across the state.
Nanjing Night Net

Family identified the victim as Carlos Rodriguez, who had been hosting a backyard party in Melbourne’s west when a firecracker exploded in his face just as midnight struck and 2012 officially began.

”The man was unconscious and suffering significant head injuries,” senior paramedic Brett Parker said.

The 34-year-old was taken to hospital but died of his injuries a day later.

Police said his death was concerning as the sale of illegal fireworks was increasing – with reports of the explosives being set off in backyards, beaches and parkland across the state.

While police raided the grocery shop suspected of supplying Mr Rodriguez with the firecracker, officers have noted that the availability seems to be everywhere – and growing.

Since the Christmas season began, illegal fireworks have been set off in regional Victoria and primarily in Melbourne’s west, but in the central suburb of Flemington fireworks were also set off on several nights in the past two weeks.

Paramedics have been called to a handful of fireworks-related incidents too, including the case of a teenager who was thrown off his feet by a firecracker, causing suspected broken ribs and sending him to hospital in intense pain.

”They are explosives. They are dangerous. That’s why they are illegal,” Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner Kieran Walshe said yesterday. ”My concern is that one person has lost their life this year. We’ve got to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”

Police aren’t sure why the trend is occurring, but Mr Walshe said he’d had reports of fireworks coming in from ”pretty well everywhere”.

It is still legal to purchase fireworks in the ACT and Northern Territory, but residents of Victoria have to be licensed pyrotechnicians to legally buy, store and use them.

Friends and family of the man killed headed to his Tarneit home yesterday to pay their respects. Many described him as a caring father of two and hoped his death would serve as a warning to others.

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