SAMANTHA TATA, OLEEVIA WOO AND JONATHAN LLOYD | NBCLA
More than 8,000 people were gathered in Rancho Santa Susana Park in Simi Valley on Thursday to celebrate Independence Day and enjoy the fireworks show sponsored by the local Rotary Club, when a launching station fell over and several fireworks were launched into the crowd.
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Twenty-eight people were injured, four with serious injuries, 24 with non-serious injuries. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
Simi Valley authorities called the detonation a “fireworks mishap,” and it appeared that a platform to hold the fireworks had given way.
“Although it is still unknown why the launching station fell over, there are no indications of foul play and it appears that this is an industrial type accident,” said a statement from the Simi Valley Police Department, adding that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified.
“That one row, all of the fireworks went off,” said witness James Wilhite. “They were actually aiming at us.”
The victims ranged in age from 8 to 78 years old. Eight people were treated at the scene. Others were hospitalized, four with serious injuries such as burns and cuts.
“We saw a lot of burns,” said Kim Milstien, president and CEO of Simi Valley Hospital. “We saw some shrapnel injuries, some trampling-like injuries and chest pain.”
A 17-year-old female was transported to Grossman Burn Center, and two adult males were treated for trampling injuries and chest pain, Milstien added. None of the injuries were life threatening.
The crowd was kept at least 350 feet from the fireworks mortars, the distance required by fire code, Lindbery told NBC News.
New York-based Bay Fireworks, the company that set up the show, released a statement Friday morning: “Bay Fireworks deeply regrets that people were injured during the Simi Valley fireworks display. Public safety has always been a major priority of Bay Fireworks.
“The highly qualified staff of Bay Fireworks is trained on a regular basis in the procedures to properly set up and discharge a fireworks display. Our equipment has been inspected and approved by authorities. Our displays, like the one in Simi Valley, are properly permitted through the local authorities.”
Witnesses said the professional fireworks show lasted just a few minutes before the huge explosion went off.
“Everything exploded and parts came flying everywhere,” a witness told NBC4. “People were running everywhere. So, it was pretty scary.”
It happened about 9:20 p.m. at Rancho Santa Susana Community Center and Park, said Cmdr. John Parks, a watch commander for the Simi Valley Police Department.
Emergency medical and fire personnel were already at the park to monitor the fireworks show, so the victims were attended to quickly, Parks said.
Debris remained scattered on the field early Friday as authorities continued the investigation. The area was blocked off as crews removed unexploded ordnance.
Most of the fireworks were not launched and remained in their mortars unexploded.
The park was evacuated after the blast, Parks said. Aerial footage showed dozens of people lingering on the outskirts of the scene and near the triage area set up on the grass.
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Source: Santa Clarita News