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Fireworks Accidents Mar Fourth of July Celebrations in NC, PA

Last week the MLN Law Blog wished all of our readers a safe and healthy 4th of July by offering tips on fireworks safety. Luckily, it turns out that Atlantans had a great time celebrating the fourth in public places such as Centennial Park and Lenox Mall and that no major accidents took place.

The residents of Ocracoke Island, located in the Outer Banks section of North Carolina, were not so lucky.

Ocracoke Island is a sparsely inhabited 15-mile long spit of land which is only accessible by plane, boat or ferry. On July 4th, that inaccessibility, which locals and tourists alike cherish, became a detriment when a truck explosion rocked the Ocracoke Island docks.

The truck carried fireworks. Witnesses described the explosion as “about 40 minutes worth of fireworks going off in four seconds.” Two people were killed and three others flown to a hospital on the mainland in critical condition as the result of the blast. One of the fatalities died at the scene while another succumbed to injuries afterward at the hospital. Two firefighters were also treated for smoke inhalation and exhaustion.

A third injured worker was taken to a burn center about 180 miles away in Chapel Hill, NC. As of the latest news he is said to be in fair condition. Other injured workers were taken to the Pitt County Memorial Hospital in Greenville, but their conditions were not released.

The truck was the property of Melrose Hill Pyrotechnics out of Rock Hill, South Carolina. The workers involved in the explosion had been slated to put on Ocracoke’s annual 4th of July Fireworks show.

Pictures of the incident, submitted to CNN through their iReport system, can be viewed here.

A man in Pennsylvania was also killed in a fireworks accident over the weekend. As in the Ocracoke Island incident, the 19-year-old victim was an employee of the pyrotechnics company responsible for hosting the show.

The show took place in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. At about 9:45pm one of the fireworks used in the show misfired and debris struck the employee in the neck and chest. While the name of the fireworks company or the exact nature of the fireworks at fault has not been released, this incident just goes to show that even professionals operating with safety precautions can fall victim to fireworks.

How about you? Did you and your family have a safe and healthy Fourth?