Entries in Fireworks (9)


Seattle Fireworks Show Marred by Fire

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(SEATTLE) -- An annual fireworks show in Seattle was the ruined by a fire at a boat storage facility on Lake Union Thursday.

According to ABC affiliate KOMO-TV, at least six boats were damaged in the fire. Witnesses said that the fire spread quickly.

"It started out as a small ember in a small boat," one witness told KOMO-TV, "and they didn't remove it quick enough and the whole thing caught fire."

Firefighters responded to the report at about 10 p.m. on Thursday and the flames were extinguished in under one hour.

According to the Seattle Fire Department, up to 14 boats may have suffered as much as $1.5 million in damage in the fire.

The fire was apparently caused by a stray firework. There were no reported injuries in the fire. The fireworks show went ahead as scheduled after the fire was extinguished.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Fireworks Danger Outweighs Fourth of July Fun

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It’s like a pilgrimage. Families in states where fireworks are strictly regulated make the long trek to giant stores on the other side of state lines in order to buy products where they don’t ask questions.

“We do this every year,” Crystal Leatherbury, who lives in Atlanta, told ABC News. “We make a family trip up.”

The “trip up” is to Lake Hartwell, S.C., just north of the Georgia line.

Every year, fireworks cause 18,000 fires, resulting in $32 million worth of property damage and 8,000 visits to the emergency room, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

That’s why four states — Delaware, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York — ban them altogether. But there are still more than a dozen states that allow the biggest aerial fireworks to be sold.

“I believe there should be a designated shooter just like you have a designated driver on Saturday night,” said William Weimer of Phantom Fireworks, the Youngstown, Ohio, company that has 1,200 outlets around the country.

This year, one of the hottest items is The Excalibur, a firework with a blast radius the size of a basketball court. It’s the kind of firework people will drive for hours to obtain, knowing full well they’ll be breaking the law once they return home with their newly acquired explosive.

“It’s not the Fourth of July without fireworks,” Sabir Mohammad said.

But authorities disagree, and this year they are cracking down.

“We are going to confiscate them and you can get up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine,” Fire Chief J.D. Rice of Valdosta, Ga., said.

And that’s no way to spend the holiday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


San Diego Fireworks Show Goes Up in Flames

ABC News(SAN DIEGO) -- One of the nation’s biggest July 4th firework displays turned into a 15-second bust after a “premature ignition” caused pyrotechnics to spread across five barges in the San Diego Bay to go off all at once.

Thousands of onlookers had spent their July 4th camped out along San Diego’s beaches and parks Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the city’s 12th annual Big Bay Boom fireworks display, billed by organizers this year as being “bigger and more intense than in past years.”

The big show was expected to start at 9 p.m. and last 18 minutes but at 8:55 p.m., onlookers heard an explosion of booms and looked up to see what appeared to be a fire in the sky, but was actually the fireworks, just not in the breathtaking, coordinated display that organizers had spent months planning.

After 15 seconds the music continued, but the light show ended.  The abrupt start and stop left people wondering if that was really what they had waited hours to see.

Nearly 25 minutes later, around 9:20 p.m., when the show was expected to end, the stunned onlookers got their answer.  That 15-second display was it, organizers said.  There would be no re-do.

The Port of San Diego took to Twitter immediately after the explosion to apologize for what it called a “technical glitch” and said event producers were investigating the cause.

In a statement issued nearly three hours later, just before midnight, the port said that the mistake was caused by technicians who sent a signal “to the barges that would set the timing for the rest of the show after the introduction.”

Garden State Fireworks, the firm hired by the city to produce the show, acknowledged the mistake.  “We will be working throughout the night to determine what technical problem caused the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds. We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties,” the company said in a statement posted on

No injuries were reported but the force of the fireworks exploding at once was so great that a large rumble could reportedly be felt throughout downtown San Diego just before 9 p.m.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Several Injured in New Hampshire Fireworks Accident

Thinkstock/Getty Images(PELHAM, N.H.) -- Police say nine people were hurt when a neighborhood fireworks display exploded prematurely on a backyard deck in Pelham, N.H., Tuesday.

Witnesses described hearing what sounded like gunshots coming from the home and at least one resident reported seeing a “huge mushroom cloud” of smoke.

Three of the victims were children. Two of the kids suffered serious burns and were flown to Boston-area hospitals for treatment. The other victims were transported by ambulance to local hospitals.

Residents say that the family holds a neighborhood fireworks display every year and that there were dozens of people at the home at the time of Tuesday’s accident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fourth of July Fireworks Spark Wildfire Fears

John White Photos/Flickr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In Colorado Springs, Colo., entire neighborhoods have been reduced to apocalyptic landscapes in the most destructive wildfire in the state’s history.  About 350 homes have been destroyed, but many more have been saved, thanks to crews battling the flames.

“They were eating smoke and fire, enduring so much brutal heat, but they saved this neighborhood,” said Steve Schoepper, a Colorado Springs firefighter.

Firefighters were on the ground again Tuesday and were getting help from the air. The massive C-130s have rejoined the fire fight after one that was battling a blaze in South Dakota crashed on Sunday, killing four.

Now the fear of new fires has led to communities in at least 20 states banning fireworks displays this July 4 because of tinder-dry conditions.

Indiana is one of the states where police will be watching the skies.

“It’s pretty much going to be a cat and mouse game, especially once the word get out that it could be a $2,500 fine or a B misdemeanor,” said Zachary Dalton of the Beech Grove Police Department.

One study found fireworks caused more than 15,500 blazes and $36 million in property damage in 2010. Firefighters say leaving the fireworks to the professionals is the best way to insure the only “bombs bursting” really are in air.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Man with Explosive Powder, Fireworks Apprehended at Philly Airport

Photodisc/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A 29-year-old-man was taken into police custody Thursday morning at the Philadelphia airport after attempting to board a flight to San Francisco while carrying items that could have been assembled into an explosive device -- a vial with a fuse, a plastic bottle filled with explosive powder and three M-80 type fireworks.

Joseph Picklo of Dallas, Pennsylvania told authorities he is a self-employed salesman who "likes to conduct experiments with explosives" and that he was trying to start a business using exploding targets. Picklo told authorities he had "fooled around" with the fireworks and other materials and forgot he had them in his backpack when he attempted to board the flight. He was charged with attempting to carry an explosive device on a plane and transferred into federal custody this afternoon. The federal charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

FBI officials told ABC News there is no known connection to terrorism, but authorities said some or all of the elements could have been combined to make a bomb. Picklo was detained at 6 a.m. after a suspicious item was seen in a carry-on bag at a security checkpoint as he was headed for a US Airways flight.

Airport operations were only minimally affected. One gate was closed for 20 minutes while police responded. The Philadelphia Police Bomb Squad removed the material to its range for examination.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Many Towns Will Forgo Fireworks Celebrations This Year

Photos[dot]com(SANTA FE, N.M.) -- To celebrate Independence Day, there will be quite a fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But in many other places, Americans will be denied their Fourth of July celebrations.

The summer has brought unusually dry weather to some parts of the country, creating fears that having fireworks celebrations would just be too dangerous.

"The chances of fires getting started are much greater when it's hot and exceptionally dry out," Accuweather broadcaster Jeannette Calle said.

With wildfires already blazing in Arizona and New Mexico, the bans on fireworks are spreading.

"Across New Mexico, we have seen just how quickly fires can burn through our landscape and impact our communities," New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez said. "I am asking New Mexicans to follow all state and local fireworks bans and restrictions and pull together to ensure a safe and celebratory Independence Day weekend."

But New Mexico's governor has limited power.

"I ordered no fireworks used on state land," Martinez said. "That is the only authority I have as governor."

Martinez begged residents to forgo fireworks this year, even going as far as declaring a state of emergency regarding the use of fireworks, effective through July 6.

In Texas, where more than 3 million acres have been scorched, nearly every county has banned fireworks. This means that for the first time, 100,000 people in Austin won't see fireworks explode as the Texas Symphony performs, because the show was cancelled.

But one Texas town, Amarillo, has come up with a solution to the problems: Instead of the usual pyrotechnics, the town will have a laser show instead.

"Something new, something different and something safe. And really celebrating a wonderful day," Amarillo National Bank Vice President William Ware said.

It's not just the fire hazard that is causing the lack of fireworks this year. For some cities, economic hardships are putting an end to their patriotic plans.

In Chicago, for example, the city will have its big fireworks show on the Fourth, but the show for the big annual food festival, Taste of Chicago, this weekend, has been cancelled because of budget worries.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Florida Man Sets Off Fireworks at Work, Charged with Arson, Battery

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(OCOEE, Fla.) -- An Ocoee, Fla., man got into one explosive fight -- literally. Guy Fowlkes, 33, was working under a tent selling fireworks when he got into a dustup with his girlfriend and another employee over a set of missing keys.

Fowlkes unleashed his anger on the merchandise -- setting off firework after firework under the tent.

Ocoee Police said Fowlkes then directed the explosives at his pregnant girlfriend and a fellow employee.

He also took the gas cap off an employee's car and inserted a firecracker. It exploded but did not ignite the vehicle.

When officers arrived at the scene, Fowlkes claimed he was having a seizure and had no memory of his actions.

Fowlkes was taken into custody and charged with arson, aggravated domestic battery and battery on a pregnant female.

Ironically, he shares a similar name (and a penchant for explosives) with Guy Fawkes, the leader of the failed Gunpowder Plot in Great Britain.

Fawkes plotted to blow up Parliament in 1605 but was caught hiding in the Palace of Westminster with 36 barrels of gunpowder before he could execute his plan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Hawaii Fireworks Explosion Kills Five

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(HONOLULU) -- Five people are dead following an explosion at an underground bunker used to house confiscated fireworks in Waikele, Hawaii.

Officials say the explosion took place shortly before 9 a.m. Friday at the HIDC Small Business Storage facility, a place used to house and destroy fireworks confiscated by authorities. A total of six workers were reportedly in the bunker at the time of the explosion, with just one person making it out alive. Officials say the initial report firefighters responded to was about a car fire, however when crews arrived on the scene they found that in addition to a car being on fire outside the bunker, there were also raging flames inside, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The five people killed by the explosion have been identified as Justin Kelii, 29, Robert Leahey, 50, Kevin Freeman, 24, Neil Sprankle, 24, and Bryan Cabalce Wahiawa, 25, according to ABC’s Honolulu affiliate KITV-TV. The lone surviving worker reportedly suffered minor injuries and refused medical treatment. The men were employees of Donaldson Enterprises Inc., the company contracted to destroy the fireworks.

It is unclear what exactly sparked the deadly explosion.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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