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Public fireworks displays cause fright

Published: 11:30AM Sunday November 04, 2007 Source: ONE News/Newstalk ZB

Several people have been injured after two public fireworks displays went wrong.

Twelve thousand spectators at Alexandra Park in Auckland thought they were in for a fun family night out when a faulty firework flew dangerously close to the crowd. It landed about 10 metres away from members of the crowd, leaving three children with minor injuries. 

One family said people were running for their lives.

Event organiser Gary Troup says the importer of the fireworks is well known to them and has been supplying fireworks for some years, He says he sends his heart out to the families affected.

But it was not just the audience that were subjected to danger on Saturday night. At the Woodford Glen Speedway in Kaiapoi, near Christchurch, two pyrotechnic experts were injured when a firework malfunctioned.

The speedway has held the pyrotechnics display for the last 30 years without any accidents, but about 15 minutes into the show there was a louder than usual bang and a firework shot off horizontally.

Once the smoke cleared a member of the pyrotechnic team was seen lying on the ground motionless for about 15 minutes.

Woodford Glen spokesman Lewis Dawson says one of the men was discharged from hospital on Saturday night, and the other is believed to have been released on Sunday.

Dawson says the Department of Labour Department is investigating but both men are licensed professionals.

However, both incidents have called the safety of fireworks events into question.

With concerns surrounding the use of fireworks at home and tighter controls on their sale, public displays are growing in popularity, but as the two displays on Saturday showed, they are not always safer.

More fiery mayhem

Fireworks have not been ruled out as the culprit of a blaze that gutted Cornwall Park Bowling Club in Auckland.

Investigators are still establishing what started the fire which began at about 4am on Sunday morning.

The blaze has put paid to plans for club room renovations, which were underway.
"We'd done some work on the greens and in the clubhouse, with a view to being here this season and replacing the building next season," says Carlton Cornwall Bowls president Alan Crowe.

Replanting will be needed to return the greens to their former glory but club members are vowing to play out the season there.

Also in Auckland, a Glen Eden man was taken to Auckland Hospital by ambulance after a firework exploded into his eye.

Auckland Ambulance spokesman Richard Swears says the man, aged in his early twenties, seems to have significant eye injuries.

In the South Island, a sparkler bomb was placed in the book return slot at the University of Otago College of Education building in Invercargill.

Fire Service Senior Station Officer Graeme Gilroy says the sparkler bomb landed on some books and was found smouldering but it had not exploded.

He says as it was a home made bomb, it had the potential to put the safety of Fire Service staff at risk.

Elsewhere, communications centres reported a busy night on Saturday dealing with minor fires in back yards, but none took more than a few minutes to bring under control.