A YOUNG woman is having agonising skin grafts to her lower legs after being seriously burned by a rogue firework.
Sarah Cox, 25, of Chester, was at a Bonfire Night display in the city when a rocket firework shot into the crowd of onlookers.
Instead of firing skywards at the event, held at the Old Hall Country Club in Aldford Road, Huntington, it shot off vertically, passing through a group of children before exploding into a wall where seven adults were standing.
All seven were treated at the scene and at the Countess of Chester Hospital for minor leg and, in one case, chest burns.
But Sarah required further treatment to her legs, and has spent three days this week in Whiston Hospital's special burns unit, on Merseyside, where she has been undergoing skin grafts.
Her boyfriend Stephen Wakefield, 24, remains confident Sarah's injuries will not be permanent.
He is considering whether to take legal action as a result.
It was the third serious firework-related incident to happen in Chester over the bonfire weekend celebrations.
In two unrelated events, 'stupid and dangerous' pranksters pushed fireworks through the front doors of houses in Lache and Blacon.
' In Lache the house was virtually destroyed, although the female owner got out safely.
' And in Blacon, a family two pensioners and their disabled, blind son were left shaken but unhurt.
Stephen, from the Garden Lane area, and Sarah were standing at the back of the Old Hall crowd on Monday by a wall, with Sarah behind Stephen.
'Towards the end of the display, a firework just hit us and exploded on my and my girlfriend's legs,' Stephen said.
'It shot right through my trousers to the back of my thigh, then burned my girlfriend.
'There had been no indication. It was like a red flash in front of us. I heard a bang and started running. I ran 10m or so, then fell to the ground as I could not walk.
'Sarah's trousers were totally alight. The bottom of them was on fire.
'We were all lucky it did not go off in our faces. All those hurt were adults, it had passed through the children without harming them.'
The club's own qualified first aid people, an on-call paramedic and a surgeon were on hand to deal with the situation until ambulances arrived and the seven were taken to hospital.
Sarah was transferred to Whiston that night and offered a bed overnight, but chose to go home with Stephen. On Tuesday she went back for what is expected to be a three-day hospital stay for skin grafts to be carried out.
'We don't think the injuries will be permanent and, although this incident was horrible, we are lucky our faces were not injured,' Stephen said.
Mersey Regional Ambulance Service paramedics dealt with all the injuries with burns kits carried in their vehicles.
'We treated them with sterile dressings and water, which take the heat out of burns,' said spokesman Kevin Mulcahy.
The seven injured were attended to by three paramedic crews from Chester, Ellesmere Port and Northwich.
'None of the injuries were severe. Six people had leg injuries and one had leg and minor chest injuries. They were all taken to the Countess of Chester Hospital.
'This firework, instead of going up, it came across vertically through the children standing at the front of the spectators to the back of the crowd, before exploding,' he added.