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Published: Tuesday, 8/17/2004

Toledoans in hospital after accident at convention

Two Toledo men remained hospitalized yesterday after they were hurt in an explosion Friday while attending a fireworks convention in Fargo, N.D.

Mike Barnes, 45, and Allen Poole, 36, were in Innovis Hospital, according to Susan Barnes, wife of Mr. Barnes. She declined further comment. Their conditions were unavailable from hospital officials.

The two men were injured during a weeklong convention of the Pyrotechnics Guild International Inc., which features seminars on making fireworks, a trade show, nightly fireworks displays, and a banquet luncheon on the final day at which awards for competitors were presented.

About 1,200 people registered for this year s convention.

On the final day, while the banquet was under way at a hotel in Fargo, the two Toledo men, together with Kelly Malone, 34, of Cortland, Ill., were at the convention shoot site several miles away at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds in West Fargo.

Though the range was closed and no safety personnel from the guild were present, the three apparently were trying to make a device known as a salute, which creates a bright flash and a loud explosion, Cass County sheriff s Deputy Tom Hall said.

The shell, which contained five to 10 pounds of flash powder, appeared to have ignited when one of the men accidently stepped on loose powder on gravel, causing enough friction to cause ignition.

The force of the blast was strong enough to move a pickup that was about a foot away from the site of the explosion, Deputy Hall said.

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