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VISTA, Calif. — A local surgeon is warning families to keep their kids away from the type of severe injury that befell a 14-year-old San Diego County boy who had a firework explode in his hand this week.

It happened just before 7 p.m. Wednesday, when the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said they got a report of kids playing with fireworks at the Vista Skatepark on North Santa Fe Avenue.

“We heard a couple fireworks go off, nothing crazy — and then we heard a really big one go off,” said Aiden Simpson, who was at an auto shop nearby at the time. “We heard a kid scream and somebody said, ‘His hand! His hand!’ And as soon as somebody yelled, ‘Call 911,’ we saw two cars take off.”

Paramedics arrived to treat the boy for injuries to his hand and face, and he was ultimately life-flighted to UC San Diego Medical Center. Authorities said the boy was seriously hurt but expected to survive.

“Fireworks injuries are very common and they do cause a significant amount of death and disability in the U.S., and unfortunately the incidents have gone up,” Dr. Jay Doucet, a top surgeon with UCSD Health, told FOX 5. “Most of the really serious accidents involve illegal fireworks or people who are not qualified to be using commercial-grade fireworks.”

Last year, 18 people were killed by fireworks injuries across the country and about 15,000 people went to emergency rooms, an increase from recent years.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s Bomb/Arson Unit is investigating the events leading up to the teen’s injury in Vista.

On the same day, what was meant to be a controlled explosion of a large cache of illegal fireworks in South Los Angeles led to disaster, with at least 16 people injured.

Also this week, authorities announced they had seized nearly 80,000 pounds of illicit fireworks at the California-Nevada border in the two months leading up to the Fourth of July holiday.