Cracker night in the Northern Territory went off with too much of a bang for a some unfortunate locals, with a 12-year-old child seriously injured and the number of fires soaring.
Many Territorians love being the only Australians to still enjoy the right to legally detonating bungers to mark the anniversary of self-governance, but authorities say the fallout from Territory Day is “totally avoidable”.
Fire crews were called out to around 400 small blazes, significantly up from 159 in 2016.
One house shed was destroyed, which NT Police, Fire and Rescue Services District Officer Ian Lockley says was “a prime example of how just one stray firework can cause significant damage.”
Health officials say it’s troubling that kids and bystanders are being caught in the firing line when people dangerously let off crackers.
Up until 6am on Sunday, 24 people went to hospital with firework-related injuries across the NT.
That’s nine more than last year, and above the average of 19.
Most people presented to the emergency department with burns, but a 12-year-old child had a serious eye injury while another person badly hurt their hand.
“The thing that concerns me most is 13 were bystanders and eight of those were children … the youngest was nine months (old),” said the acting director of the Centre for Disease Control, Dr Charles Douglas.
“Firework injuries are totally avoidable. People are not behaving responsibly.”
Dr Douglas said numbers may rise slightly in the coming days, but it was too early to know whether the injuries were alcohol-related.
This year cracker night fell on a weekend, and police were worried Territorians could be dangerously boozed-up by the time the five-hour free for all began.
Territory cops released a compilation of disastrous home videos on social media as a warning, with some sage safety advice to locals: “Don’t be stupid!”.
Sausage dogs carrying live crackers in their mouths, people extinguishing fires with their thongs and explosions setting off car alarms featured in the expletive-laden Facebook video about what not to do on Territory Day.
More than 300 tonnes of fireworks were imported for the event, and any unused crackers must be surrendered to police after midday on Sunday when possession becomes a criminal offence again.