Fireworks Accident Injures 39 in California, Investigation Launched

Safety officials are investigating a Fourth of July fireworks accident that left more than three dozen people injured at a Simi Valley, California park, when some of the pyrotechnics fired off into the crowd.  

The Independence Day fireworks event, which has been sponsored for the last 43 years by the City of Simi Valley and the local Rotary Club, went awry last Thursday, causing at least 39 people to suffer injuries.

Officials say a wooden launching station holding the fireworks fell over, sending blasts of fireworks into the crowd of nearly 10,000 spectators about 40 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The fireworks, which should have been launched into the sky, were sent careening horizontally into the crowd of onlookers awaiting the show.

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The blasts traveled approximately the same distance as they would travel vertically into the air. Videos featured on local television stations and the internet show footage of the incident, which sent blasts of fireworks into the crowd for longer than one full minute.

Sixteen people were taken to Simi Valley Hospital, and others were treated at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks and Providence Holy Cross Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The explosion from the fireworks injured children as young as 17-months old and adults as old as 71 years of age. Nearly a dozen children were injured and, as of Friday evening, two adults remained in the hospital as a result of injuries sustained during the incident.

Four people were treated for serious injuries that were not life-threatening. Many other people were treated by emergency response crews onsite at the park. The injuries included shrapnel-related wounds, burns, chest pains and trauma from people being trampled by the crowd during the chaos.

The bomb squad was called onsite to deactivate the remaining fireworks, preventing further injuries from occurring.

Ongoing Investigation

Officials say the incident was caused by an apparent malfunction of the fireworks display and no foul play was involved in the accident. The state fire marshall launched an investigation along with multiple agencies, including the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Bay Fireworks was hired to put on the show and conducted last year’s Independence Day event. The company also launched their own investigation into the incident, but say a shell malfunction is the likely cause.

Bay Fireworks was also involved in a similar fireworks mishap in Laguna Beach. During that mishap a fireworks shell malfunctioned, however the malfunction did not cause a larger chain reaction and no spectators were injured.

A statement released by the Bethpage, New York based company said they “deeply regretted” the incident.

Photo Courtesy of Patrick Mackin via Flickr/Creative Commons

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