Since many of Michael Baglini's Hawthorne Forest neighbors knew he made homemade fireworks, he became informally known in his Centreville community as the "fireworks guy."
BUT WHEN a July 15 explosion blew a hole in his roof and the resulting fire caused an estimated $250,000 damage to his home, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department also became aware of his hobby.
And after seizing some 5,000 pounds of explosives from his home at 13513 Portage Place following the big boom, fire officials charged Baglini last Thursday, July 26, with the manufacture, possession and use of explosive materials or devices.
It's a Class 5 felony that could land him behind bars for anywhere from one to 10 years. He turned himself in to the authorities, Friday, July 27, and was arraigned in court, Tuesday morning, July 31.
The explosion and fire occurred at 12:35 p.m. on an otherwise quiet, Sunday afternoon. Baglini, 46, was working in his garage grinding metal on a grinding wheel when a spark flew up and ignited a nearby box of explosive products.
That brought out almost 90 firefighters from nine different engine companies, plus three EMS (emergency medical services) units, the HAZMAT (hazardous materials) response team and Fire Marshal’s Office representatives.
And when explosive materials were discovered, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms — plus Fairfax County Police Department’s Explosive Ordnance Team — also joined in.
FAIRFAX COUNTY Fire and Rescue Department spokesman Dan Schmidt said explosive-making components were allegedly found in Baglini's home, garage and shed. They were even seized from a concealed space that the Centreville man had built between his garage and the floor above.
Said Schmidt: "It was chemicals, fertilizer, powders and components — such as fuses — used to detonate and set off fireworks or pyrotechnics."
In July 17 affidavits for warrants to seize Baglini's laptop computer and central processing unit of his desktop computer, Lt. W. Allen Richardson, a fire investigator, presented further details.
"A consent search of [Baglini's] shed ... revealed explosive materials, chemicals, tools and equipment, recipes and components of illegal fireworks," he wrote. "The owner states that information used in the construction of these devices [was] found through books, videotapes and the Internet."
Richardson noted, as well, that Baglini reportedly told him he'd participated in Internet blogs regarding "the procurement of material in bulk quantities used in the manufacturing of explosive materials." Now that Baglini's been charged, he has an Oct. 3 court date.