Fireworks: Pretty To See, Deadly To Be Around

Massive Explosion At Fireworks Factory Kills 1, Injures 2
Every year before the Fourth of July, experts remind and even lecture the public on the danger of fireworks. These entertainments are explosive incendiary devices capable of doing immense damage. So when you hear stories like kids taking apart fireworks and rebuilding, as KTVI-TV has reported, you can see why the warnings are an annual rite.

But someone should remind the lecturing crowd that asking people to do as you do, not as you say, is more effective. Although not an everyday occurrence, there are times that professionals who move, handle, manufacture, and set off fireworks make mistakes far beyond what consumers do.For example, an explosion at a fireworks factory in Tenino, Wash. killed one person and injured two just a few weeks ago, according to Q13Fox-TV. An executive from Entertainment Fireworks called the incident "one of those one of a million-type occurrences." A blast destroyed a shed on the company's property and a rental truck parked next to it. Bill Hill, a 74-year-old employee, died in the blast. Two others were taken to hospitals.

That once-in-a-million chance happens more frequently than people might think. On July 4, 2009, a fireworks truck exploded on Ocracoke Island in North Carolina, according to Associated Press. The blast, which killed two people and injured three, was audible across town, according to witnesses.

The city of Kolding, Denmark saw an enormous disaster when the N. P. Johnsen's Fireworks Factory in the suburb of Seest exploded in 2004, according to One firefighter was killed and 85 people were injured, which is a minor miracle when you consider the extent of the damage. A Wikipedia entry claims that 2,107 buildings were damaged in the explosion and 2,000 people had to be evacuated. A resident caught the event on a video that made its way online.

One of the worst modern fireworks disaster was in 2000 at a factory in Enschede, an eastern town in the Netherlands. At least 20 people died, according to the BBC. Firefighters had been trying to contain a blaze when the factory exploded. Eyewitnesses saw human limbs flying through the air. The town had been built around the factory. Below is a video account from CNN.

Sometimes the fiascos don't injure people, but still show how dangerous working with, or watching, fireworks can be. On July 4, 2012, what was supposed to be an 18-minute exhibition in San Diego all caught on fire and went off in 15 seconds, as KFMB-TV reported. The cause was suspected to be a computer error. Dan Roy, who was in the audience, caught the event in all its pyrotechnic sound and fury.

Not to be outdone, during last year's Fourth at Simi Valley, Ca., things went very badly. Misfirings sent fireworks into the crowd and neighborhood, according to the blog LAist. Unfortunately, an estimated 28 people were injured, although no one was killed. Here is some raw video from the GlobalLeaks YouTube channel.

This year, let's try to keep things safe, amateurs and pros alike.
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