For a crowd gathered to watch an Independence Day fireworks show at a Southern California park, it took time to realize the chain of explosions weren’t just part of the show.
More than three dozen people were injured when a platform holding fireworks give a move, sending the pyrotechnics into a crowd, authorities said Friday.
About 10,000 people took their sits to enjoy the fireworks extravaganza at a Simi Valley park Thursday night when the spectacle of lights that were supposed to be launched in the sky was replaced by a series of bursts, injuring 39 people and sending others fleeing for safety.
Police still don’t have the clear answer to what led to the incident. “For some unknown reasons the structure that holds these ordinances collapsed and caused them to be firing into the crowd,” Simi Valley police Cmdr. Stephanie Shannon.
Among other key questions was whether the pyrotechnics display was set far enough away in accordance with the safety standards, and whether guidelines needed to be revised to protect spectators.
Regulations require spectators be kept 70 feet away for every inch of diameter of the largest shell, informs ABC News.
According to the set standards, the scectators should have been at least 350 feet away from the fireworks, said Ventura County Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike LaPlant.
Investigators were also finding out whether guideline was followed, though all of the injuries were at a distance of 350 feet or more, LaPlant said.
This was the second year the local Rotary Club used Bay Fireworks for the fireworks show, investigators revealed to the media.
Bay Fireworks promised in a statement it “will conduct a thorough and complete investigation of this incident and make our findings available to the public.”
The company is licensed by the state and had no violations on its record, reported Daniel Berlant, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
The state could cite the company after reviewing the results of the investigation by Ventura County, which issued the permit for the event.
Thirty-nine people ranging in ages from 17 months to 78 years old were injured. Some had burns and shrapnel wounds, and some were trampled, hospital officials said. The list of injured includes 12 children.
Luckily, only three stayed at hospital for more than one day. One was being treated at a burn center in West Hills, and two others were in fair condition at a community medical center in Simi Valley.
There were those who shot a video of the incident. Thus, a clip aired on KCAL-TV shows a pair of firework blasts at or near the ground.
Another clip, posted on YouTube, shows three ground-level bursts. The fireworks continue for almost another minute before stopping.
“There was a big boom, everybody started running down the street, people were screaming,” Justice Allen, 17, of Simi Valley recalled. “Everybody was just terrified. People hid in bushes.”
“I was really terrified,” said another witness. “Every time someone launched a firework it got me into panic mode.”