Skip to comments.Fireworks fiasco hurts 50
Posted on 07/05/2004 7:01:25 AM PDT by Born Conservative
PITTSTON - The grand finale of a fireworks display sponsored by Pittston and West Pittston in the Riverfront Park area went awry Sunday, sending possibly 50 people to area hospitals and igniting a small fire at Cooper's on the Waterfront.
"Fireworks went errant during the grand finale and went into the crowd of people," said Mike Lombardo, who is with the Pittston ambulance. "About 50 people were injured, five to ten pretty severe. There were a tremendous amount of walking wounded."
A chaotic scene erupted as the crowd tried to dash to safety.
Maria Noone of Pittston was watching the fireworks with her son.
"We were sitting on the steps that lead down to the fireworks, and it was like a rolling thunder of fireworks heading our way. Everyone started to run. People were being hit (by fireworks) within 12 feet of us. If we didn't move out of the way, we'd be in an ambulance, too."
"With about 20 or 25 percent of the finale left, that piece exploded irregularly," said Michael Lombardo, mayor of Pittston, uncle of the Pittston ambulance crew member. "It exploded at ground level and went left and right at about 10:30."
Some of the injured were reportedly flown by medical helicopter that was staged out of the Pittston Area High School.
The mayor said the fireworks were located in an area 15 to 18 feet below ground level of Cooper's.
"One of the pieces ricocheted and landed in the shrubs at Cooper's," Mayor Lombardo said.
The mayor said the most serious injuries were suffered by two or three people from the pyrotechnics company. He said two of the three were classified as serious. One suffered burns and smoke inhalation and another suffered a "shrapnel gash to the upper left leg."
According to Mayor Lombardo, all three were taken to Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Plains Township.
Conrad Schintz, vice president of operations for Geisinger Wyoming Valley, said the hospital's disaster plan had been initiated and seven victims had been transported there.
Six were burn victims and one suffered a blunt injury to the leg and was transported to an operating room.
"With any type of disaster, information comes in slowly. We gear up for the worst and hope for the best," Schintz said.
The mayor added that about 10 to 12 people suffered minor injuries resulting from "people running, tripping and falling" and percussion injuries.
Others injured were transported to Scranton's Community Medical Center, according to the hospital.
"When I saw it happen, I knew something was wrong and ran over," said William Goldsworthy, mayor of West Pittston.
"There were a lot of very minor injuries."
Officials planned to quarantine all the pieces of fireworks shells that were scattered about the Riverfront Park area, and the state police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were arriving to investigate.
Mayor Lombardo said the fireworks display was reportedly staged by Schaefer Pyrotechnics, of Stroudsburg.
County EMA as well as ATF were on the scene. Mayor Lombardo said there were concerns about unexploded ordnance. "We're not sure, but we're assessing the situation."
"We were in the middle of the bridge, and right when the grand finale started everything went off," said Mario Palmieri, 18, of Exeter. "Something went wrong. You could tell something went wrong."
"They were going off at a 20-degree angle. The fireworks just went off on the ground," said Tim Fenner, 19, Exeter, who watched the event from the middle of Water Street Bridge.
Firefighters remained on the roof of Coopers at 10:45 p.m. Emergency vehicles remained at the CVS pharmacy at Kennedy Boulevard and the Salvation Army Emergency Response Unit appeared on the scene.
Mark Warke of Trucksville was seeking treatment at Geisinger. Warke's sister was seeking treatment for a sprained knee.
"We were standing on a metal bridge about 100 yards away. At first they were going in the air, then all of a sudden they didn't fire right; they were going backward," Warke said.
Warke's sister, whom he did not name, was injured while attempting to reach a pay phone to inform their father they were both safe.
No further information was available at press time.
$hit happens . People should know the dangers of fireworks. Every year people get killed or maimed . Spectators should sign a waiver to sue if there is an accident . Some people watch so close the sparks from the propulsion charge ignite their hair .
People were running; crying out; screaming for their lawyers. It was horrible.
What did Bush know and when did he know it?
See, fireworks should only be done by professionals -- oh, wait . . .
People as far as 3 and 4 miles away were claiming shrapnel and burn injuries, including one person who was in the next county at the time who claimed stress injury due to excitement of hearing it on the radio.
Oh my. We were in Pittstown yesterday afternoon. It's a tiny, lovely little town. Prayers for all those hurt.
Heavy duty aluminum foil is a pyrotechnicians friend.........use it damn it !
Stay safe BC !
"A chaotic scene erupted as the crowd tried to dash to safety."
It should have said - the sheeple scattered with abject fear that j f'n kerry wasn't there to protect them from the EVIL right-wing display of pseudo-military ordinance.
Jeepers. So a major malfunction that injures fifty people shouldn't even be news in your book? They deserve it for going to the show? How 'bout this. Lets get the fire out and the people treated before blaming the victims here for an accident.
Of course they're dangerous. Burns still hurt, even if you know that.
I know we are a sue-happy culture, but cynical and bitter isn't a better one.
Happens some times.
Years ago in my hometown, we were watching the fireworks display from a friend's secluded home that was just over a small hill behind the location where the volunteer fire department was setting them off.
Early in the show, one shell reversed from it's ascent and landed right in the magazine, where it exploded. We got to experience a little of what the crew was going through as probably half of the mortar rounds in the box went off every which way and we got a pretty good shower of burning debris (and a lot of noise).
It had to be a spectacular sight from the town across the river where it was meant to be viewed, but they had the benefit of being too far away to worry about getting hit by anything. From our standpoint at ground zero minus about 200 feet (and probably some of the boaters on the near side of the river) it was a different sort of thrill.
Nobody got hurt though. Probably some minor wounds suffered by the crew, but these are just fireworks, and any "shrapnel" that comes off of them is just bits of clay and paperboard, and they reported no injuries (red blooded beer drinking manly men and all that). I'd be more concerned about eye & ear injuries than anything else, and the crew would be protected if they were following the rules. Our biggest concern at the time was checking the surrounding area for spot fires, and we found none. Some of the hot glowing bits landed on my car and some of the others out there and left a few permanent marks on the paint & glass, but that was the only damage.
Yeah, they are so dangerous that I can legally buy ammunition and not a firecracker ...
If there are bad shells...then it doesn't matter if you're a professional or not..those shells are going to blow. Believe me...I've been there.