Fireworks accident in California raises importance of safety

Fireworks accident in California raises importance of safety

Posted:
Fireworks exploded just feet from the ground as a crowd of 10,000 watched in Simi Valley, outside Los Angeles. Fireworks exploded just feet from the ground as a crowd of 10,000 watched in Simi Valley, outside Los Angeles.
"It just makes everybody really respect what we're dealing with and try extra hard to be safe," said Pyro Shows technician Tom Baker. "It just makes everybody really respect what we're dealing with and try extra hard to be safe," said Pyro Shows technician Tom Baker.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville's Festival on the 4th went ahead Thursday night with music and fireworks. Despite rain, it all appeared to go according to plan.

That wasn't the case for a fireworks display in California. Fireworks exploded just feet from the ground as a crowd of 10,000 watched in Simi Valley, outside Los Angeles.

Twenty-eight people were injured.

According to the Los Angeles Times, authorities believe a charge exploded early inside the mortar tube, tipping over the wood platform holding the fireworks and sending them into the crowd.

Pyro Shows is one of the largest fireworks display companies in the country. It is based in LaFollette.

Pyro Shows puts on Knoxville's Festival on the 4th and Boomsday, as well as big shows in other states.

"We're concerned for their people and their families. It just makes everybody really respect what we're dealing with and try extra hard to be safe," said Pyro Shows technician Tom Baker. 

The Simi Valley show was put on by New York company Bay Fireworks, which issued a statement  saying it will conduct a thorough investigation "in order reach an accurate conclusion to this unfortunate accident, and to ensure that it does not happen again."

"There are a lot of rules for fireworks that are meant for safety. The biggest rule I believe is the separation between the fireworks and the spectators. The rule is 70 feet per inch of shell of fireworks. So if it's a six-inch shell, that's very common for fireworks, the distance of safety is 420 feet," Baker said.

Reports from California say the crowd was 800 to 900 feet from the fireworks stand, but the injuries were still numerous and some were severe.

"There's also wind and all kinds of factors that you can't always protect from," Baker said.

Pyro Shows shoots more than 100 fireworks displays every year. Each location has its own challenges.

"We go ahead of time with laser distance measuring devices and we have to set up with the local authorities wherever we go for all the safety distances, and whether we can shoot in an area. We try very hard to make sure safety is the number one concern," Baker said.

Baker says the explosion in California shouldn't scare off families from enjoying fireworks shows, but they should always be conscious of safety. They should take care where they sit or stand as spectators.

Look for signs that warn of the fall-out zone and never cross a fence or a barrier to get a better view.

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