Fireworks Accident Injures 39: Fourth of July Fireworks Gone Wrong
The Fourth of July is supposed to be a day of celebration with family and friends, often featuring a cookout, a picnic or a day at the beach, or maybe a local parade. Usually, the day ends with a fireworks display, safely conducted by professionals and enjoyed by everyone. But sometimes, something goes wrong.
Such was the case in Simi Valley, California last week, when fireworks shot into a crowd of perhaps 10,000 people, injuring 39 of them. The accident happened just seconds into the show, when a fireworks launching stand apparently fell over, sending lighted fireworks into the crowd and causing families to run for cover.
According to emergency personnel who arrived on the scene, at least 34 attendees went to area hospitals, with 20 being taken by ambulance and 14 going in private vehicles. Four of the injuries were classified as “moderate to severe,” and at least two adults were still in the hospital by the weekend, in fair condition. Five injuries were considered very minor and were treated on scene. None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.
According to witnesses, the single row of fireworks went off horizontally, in a way that made it seem as if they were being aimed at the crowd. Many reported a loud explosion, and feeling intense heat. Most of the injuries were described as “like shrapnel injuries.
One reason for the lack of severity of most of the injuries was the Simi Valley fire code’s requirement that the crowd be at least 350 feet away from the area where fireworks are launched. It is still unknown why the launching stand fell over, but police note that there is no indication of foul play, and they continue to investigate.
In a statement released the day after the show, the company that put on the show, Bay Fireworks, said that it “deeply regrets” the incident, and noted that their “highly qualified staff” is “trained on a regular basis in the procedures to properly set up and discharge a fireworks display.” The company also promised to conduct its own investigation into what went wrong.