Updated April 13, 2018
ANNA MARIA – A naval flare that washed up on the beach on Wednesday, April 11, injuring a beachgoer, prompted city officials to close the beach between Cedar and Willow avenues until this morning.
Beachgoers saw the Mark 58 naval flare on fire on the beach on Wednesday and pushed it back into the water, attempting to put the fire out. When it continued to burn, they called for help, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Dave Bristow said.
A fire extinguisher was ineffective, but the fire went out when officials submerged the device in a garbage can full of water, he said.
Early Thursday morning, a 26-year-old man found a fragment of the device and put it in his pocket, where it later ignited and burned him, Bristow said. He was treated at Blake Medical Center.
The Manatee County HazMat team identified the device, which contains highly flammable phosphorus, Bristow said, adding that HazMat planned to turn the device over to the U.S. Department of Defense.
HazMat personnel searched for fragments on the beach Thursday night – phosphorus glows in the dark – but found nothing, leading to the reopening of the beach.
Fragments may still wash ashore, officials warn. If you see an object on the beach that you cannot identify, do not touch it, but call 911.