July 06--A 49-year-old mother severely burned when fireworks were accidentally ignited in her home during a Fourth of July party has died, police say.
The accident happened about 8:50 p.m. Friday at a home on Eaker Street in Auburndale in Polk County. Kathryn Flint died Saturday night. Her son was also injured but survived. One family dog was killed, and another was hurt in the flames.
Police say Flint was having a family gathering to celebrate the holiday. Flint and her family planned to light fireworks after sunset and had multiple large mortars, used for lighting and launching fireworks, stored in a bedroom of the home.
Flint, followed by the two family dogs, went inside to get the mortars. Somehow, at least one of the mortars was accidentally ignited.
"When that mortar exploded, it set off others inside the bedroom," a police statement said.
Investigators said all of the mortars were eventually set on fire, causing a succession of explosions that trapped Flint inside the bedroom.
The chain of explosions sparked a fire in the bedroom. Flint's 25-year-old son, Christopher Flint, heard the series of explosions and came running to help his mother, police said.
Christopher Flint went to the bedroom window, removed an air-conditioning unit and pulled his mother out of the room, which was still on fire.
The Auburndale Fire Department and Polk County Fire Rescue were both called to the home to douse the blaze.
Kathryn Flint suffered severe burns from the explosions and flames. She was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center, where she later died. Christopher Flint, who had less-severe burns, was taken to Lakeland Regional Medical Center to treat his wounds.
Christopher Flint was stabilized, police said. He was kept in the hospital overnight and released Saturday.
One of the two family dogs who followed Kathryn Flint into the bedroom was found dead inside the torched home, and another suffered serious burns. That dog is being cared for by the Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control Section. Police did not say whether it was expected to survive.
Findings of a preliminary investigation suggest that the explosions and fire were accidental.
The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing. Police and fire officials are working to figure out exactly how the first mortar, which was left on a bed inside the home, was ignited.
Instead of potentially dangerous at-home displays, public-safety officials urge residents and visitors to opt for public, organized events featuring fireworksdisplays conducted by professionals trained in their proper use and safety.
As fireworks and celebrations continue through the long Independence Day weekend, other amateurs who decide to light their own celebratory explosives are urged to use caution.
Remember to keep children and pets away from flammable objects, keep water handy to quickly douse flames and don't hold lit fireworks or point explosives at yourself or others.
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