Community must remember Scottown

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 3, 2006

Ten years ago, the world changed for countless people who were devastated by the tragic fire in Scottown — a horrible tragedy that killed nine people and still imparts a painful lesson.

As people gather tonight to celebrate Independence Day on July 4, we urge them to do so carefully when it comes to fireworks and take a moment or two to reflect on all those affected at Ohio River Fireworks that fateful day.

The man accused of starting the blaze, Todd Hall, remains incarcerated in a mental institution since he was determined not to be of the mental capabilities to face the death penalty.

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Sadly, that probably only came as even more insult and injury to the families that still wonder to this day how something like this could happen.

The Scottown tragedy changed the way the nation views and sells fireworks, putting more restrictions on the business.

Still, more could be done to ensure that this type of accident never occurs again. The federal government should make uniform laws that are more strict on how fireworks can be displayed, stored and sold. Every story should be required to showcase only a small variety while keeping the rest a safe distance away under lock and key.

Some changes were made in Ohio the following year to tighten security measures. Years later, several other groups adopted more stringent standards. Still, ask the firefighters who were on the frontlines at Scottown, and they are quick to tell you that more could be done.

But, perhaps, the best way to prevent future fireworks-related deaths is by simple education efforts.

Parents should use extreme caution when purchasing fireworks and be even more careful about what they allow their children to let off.

Even items such as sparklers that seem harmless can catch clothing and hair on fire. Children should be supervised at all times when using fireworks and other items that explode or ignite.

The Scottown fireworks tragedy will likely always serve as a painful reminder of what can happen when fireworks are taken lightly.

Smart celebration and careful planning should help ensure that everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July.