An illegal firework exploded in a Long Island man's face as he entertained July Fourth party guests, according to Suffolk county police.
Alexander Abel, 33, of Centereach remains at Stony Brook University hospital in critical but stable condition, said a police spokesperson.
"It was a very strange sounding boom and the whole house shook," said neighbor Maryann Gubelman. "And then we heard people screaming."
Abel had been lighting fireworks in the street near his home for about an hour, investigators said. A mortar-style firework that landed on the ground caused the accident.
"This one firework would not light for whatever reason so he peered into his tube and it exploded in his face," said deputy inspector Christopher Hatton of the Suffolk county police.
The blast was so strong it damaged a nearby fence, neighbors said. Remnants of exploded mortars and other fireworks still littered the street Tuesday.
Abel and his wife were marking their first July Fourth holiday in a new home, neighbors said. They weren't the only area residents displaying fireworks.
"It was like a war zone here Monday night," one woman said.
"I wish someone had called the police on them because then the guy's face might have been saved," added Cathy, another neighbor who declined when asked for her last name.
The fireworks Abel used were illegal, according to deputy inspector Hatton.
Abel's wife couldn't be reached for comment.
Police again reiterated warnings about the danger of illegal fireworks. Residents in this Centereach neighborhood who witnessed this tragedy won't need to be told again.
"I said to my sons, I hope you learned your lesson from this," Maryann Gubelman said. "It's just a shame."