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Police: Central Park blast likely caused by firework

A injured man is carried to an ambulance in Central Park in New York on Sunday, July 3, 2016. Authorities say the man was seriously hurt in Central Park and people near the area reported hearing some kind of explosion. Fire officials say it happened shortly before 11 a.m., inside the park at 68th Street and Fifth Avenue. | Andres Kudacki/AP

NEW YORK — A firework that exploded when a 19-year-old unwittingly stepped on it on Sunday in Central Park, seriously injuring his left foot, didn’t appear to be designed to intentionally hurt people, police officials said.

The homemade gadget was like an “explosive experiment” that was probably designed to “make a large noise, maybe make a flash,” concocted by someone with a basic understanding of chemistry, said Lt. Mark Torre, commanding officer of the New York Police Department’s bomb squad.

There was no evidence that the explosion was related to terrorism, and there were no specific, credible threats on New York over the Fourth of July weekend, the authorities said.

The injured man, who police did not identify, was walking in the park with two friends when he stepped on a rock covering the explosive. He was undergoing surgery to his left foot at a hospital and his condition was stable, fire officials said.

Investigators don’t think the man who stepped on the explosive or his friends are responsible for creating the firework and officials asked that anyone with information about it contact the police.

“We’ve seen a lot of experimentation with homemade fireworks,” Torre said.

The man injured in Central Park bleeds from his injured leg as he gets help from paramedics, firefighters and police in New York on Sunday. | Andres Kudacki/AP
The man injured in Central Park bleeds from his injured leg as he gets help from paramedics, firefighters and police in New York on Sunday. | Andres Kudacki/AP

Torre said the Central Park explosive may have been designed to go off at an earlier time, even a day before, but for whatever reason did not.

The 11 a.m. blast on the east side of Central Park could be heard for blocks, leaving some with the belief that it was part of a Fourth of July celebration.

Tourist John Murphy, visiting the city from Connecticut, stayed with the injured man until emergency responders arrived and placed a tournequit on his leg.

“His left leg was severely damaged, all bone and muscle,” Murphy said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio sent out a tweet reminding people to stay safe around fireworks.

“Fireworks are fun — but let’s leave them to the professionals,” the mayor tweeted.