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M-60 wasn’t that big of a blast on 4th

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POSTED July 1, 2010 2:12 a.m.
While rummaging through my garage a few years ago, I came across an old M-60.

Considered a “novelty” firecracker, this piece of firework landed in my possession compliments of a former colleague Marc, whom I worked with some 15 years ago at a part-time job.

I had tucked the small explosive away in a tin canister and forgot about it.

So when I came across the M-60, I was curious as to what kind of punch it might pack considering that the M-80 had the equivalent explosive force of about a fifth of a stick of dynamite.

In order to find out, I brought that old M-60 along with my safe and sane fireworks to my friend’s 2008 Fourth of July gathering in Sacramento. I wanted to share that moment with my son, Josh.

When I was his age, we used to shoot off the illegal fireworks, getting mostly packs of firecrackers and maybe a cherry bomb or, my personal favorite, the bottle rocket. For my childhood friends and me, this time of year was often the highlight of our summers.

We got a kick out of lighting firecrackers one at a time in order to get the best bang for the buck. In turn, we would cause damage to soda cans and blow-up action figures, model kits, and other discarded toys.

Looking back, I think we were quite fortunate that none of us were ever injured from playing with illegal fireworks, considering the safety risks and the threat of causing a fire.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, an estimated 23,200 fires were caused by fireworks since 2002. This accounted for about $35 million in property loss, with 60 percent of those fires occurring during the month of July around the holiday.

“We’re not trying to take the fun out of Independence Day celebration but parents must use extreme caution in assuring that children are properly supervised in the safe handling of legal fireworks,” said Michael D. Brown, Under Secretary of Homeland Security, in a recent press release.

Meanwhile, I kept the M-60 under wraps for the finale of our recent safe-and-sane fireworks event consisting of friends and family. We took plenty of the precaution, including keeping buckets filled with water available to help douse out any burning objects.

Many of the fountains from TNT and Phantom fireworks were a big hit among the younger kids, who “oohed” and “aahed” at the fiery splatter of vibrant colors and the crackles, screams, and whistles.

In between, we lit up ground spinners and chasers. Some of the kids took delight in running up and down the street holding sparklers.

And then came the moment of truth. I unveiled the M-60 and placed it alongside the smoldering debris of fireworks in the middle of the not-so-busy street.

The M-60 made a loud blast and even shot off a small chunk of street asphalt. But it was hardly the thundering sound of, say, an M-80.

Talk about a disappointment.

Hands down, the M-80 remains the most powerful firecracker out there.

Knowing what I know now, I hope to never come across one.
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