UPDATE: Homeowner cited for illegally possessing fireworks following blaze

Published: Jul. 2, 2008 at 11:20 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 2, 2008 at 1:25 PM EDT
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By Sara Gouedy - bio | email


UPDATE: Police have ruled the fire as accidental.

The Fairfield Township police department has also issued a citation for the illegal possession of fireworks. The state Fire Marshal may issue additional citations.


Police are deciding if local a homeowner will face criminal charges after fireworks started more than a show.

On Tuesday afternoon, a firework explosion started a fire at a house on Huntsman Way and Hamilton-Mason Road in Fairfield Township.

Police are considering that charge because of the staggering amount of fireworks found inside the house - thousands of dollars worth. But investigators are still not sure what set off the explosions.

Butler County firefighters faced a delicate task - removing hundreds of exploded, and exposed fireworks from the garage of the Fairfield Township house after hundreds of the fireworks accidentally went off, setting the building on fire.

"It just sounded like machine gun fire--bam bam bam bam bam--there was smoke all over the place, I couldn't see my hands in front of my face it was so think with smoke," said Bill Hengeli, the homeowner.

Bill Hengeli says the explosions trapped him inside the garage. He says somehow, he only got one small burn on his foot.

"I just kind of hid down like this and covered myself and hoped I didn't get killed,"  he said.

The family says there were about $3,000 worth of fireworks inside the garage when the explosions happened."

Butler County deputies tell FOX19 they found more fireworks in the basement of the house, and that it's illegal for anyone in Ohio to have that many fireworks and not be a fireworks dealer.

Bill and his wife, Bernie Warren, say they had that many because the family hosts an annual fireworks show in Indiana on the Fourth of July.

"We're not doing that this year, and I think our fireworks have ended," said Warren.

Meanwhile, firefighters say it's a miracle the explosions didn't burn the entire house down.

Most of the damage happened to the garage, the attic, and Hengeli's truck.

Firefighters say the explosions lasted about five minutes, and that some them were powerful enough to blow three inch holes in the roof of the house.