10 Worst Fireworks Disasters in History

The 4th of July is nearly here. It’s a time of year that we celebrate with our family and friends. We eat good food, drink a few adult beverages and enjoy the day off of work. And blow stuff up.

Legal or not, fireworks have long been a staple of the holiday. From huge professional displays to running through the backyard with sparklers, we love our fireworks. Unfortunately, they are illegal in many areas for a reason. Fireworks are risky and dangerous, especially in untrained hands. The best idea is to leave fireworks to the professionals. Here’s why.

1. Enschede

Undoubtedly the worst fireworks disaster in all of history, the accident occurred in 2000. A fireworks factory was located in Enshede, Netherlands. There was a small fire inside the factory which wouldn’t have been a big deal except for the improperly stored barrel of fireworks outside of the door. One small fire led to another which led to tons of fireworks exploding with the power of a bomb. The entire building went up, and 23 people were killed. More than a thousand residents were left homeless in the wake of the resulting fires, and 947 people sustained injuries.

2. North Dakota

It was in 2011 that a 41-year-old man in Fargo decided to set off a mortar-style firework to celebrate the holiday. He set off one without instant. Sadly for the man and all that witnessed the tragedy, he didn’t stop with good enough. William Burley decided to set off a second device. That device exploded on the ground and caused the man to be decapitated in front of several witnesses, including children.

3. Mexico

The next time you see a truck and you suspect it’s carrying fireworks, get away from it. In 2013, more than a dozen people were killed and hundreds injured when a truck hauling fireworks exploded. The accident was caused by a misfired firework that landed in the truck. The debris filed covered 100 meters.

4. Florida

In 2007, Tony Rogers walked into Galaxy Fireworks Tent in Port Richey. For reasons unknown, he thought it would be a good idea to light a firework in the tent. His decision caused a massive explosion in a tent that was full of people and other explosives. Fortunately, no one was killed in the incident but several were injured.

5. India

The town of Sivakasi is known as the fireworks capital of India. Many figured it was only a matter of time before tragedy hit. There are more than 700 fireworks factories in the region and one, Om Sakthi Fireworks Industries, had a serious accident in 2012. Workers in the factory were mixing dangerous chemicals in an overheated room. This resulted in a fire that quickly spiraled out of control and took five hours to contain. There were 40 people killed in this incident and more than 70 hurt.

6. Ohio

Most of us have played with sparklers on the 4th of July. During a holiday celebration in Ohio, about 30 people were in a backyard enjoying each other’s company. A single spark from a sparkler fell onto a bag of fireworks. That spark set off the fireworks which exploded on the ground. Five children were severely injured and two adults suffered burns. One woman in attendance suffered with burns over half of her body.

7. China

In 2013, a truck was driving on a highway through the Henan Province. Somehow the truck exploded, sending fireworks everywhere. Part of an elevated bridge was destroyed — 260 feet of the bridge collapsed, in fact — sending vehicles plunging to the ground. The explosion and the collapse together killed 26 people and injured a countless number more.

8. North Carolina

On Ocracoke Island in 2009, there was a terrible truck explosion in which four men were killed. The truck was carrying tons of fireworks for the local 4th of July celebration. The crew was working on the truck and somehow an explosion was sparked. One of the men died on the scene and three others passed away at the hospital. Several firefighters were also treated for injuries.

9. Oklahoma

A young newlywed couple was celebrating in their backyard with their two toddlers. The 4th of July holiday quickly turned tragic when a firework exploded and hit the man directly in the throat. Austin McCloud, 19, died on the scene in front of his wife, son, step-son and other family members.

10. Denmark

A small town in Denmark never saw tragedy like they did in 2004. A small explosion in a fireworks factory detonated 1,200 tons of fireworks that were being stored. The blast was so large that 17 local residents were injured and the town sustained $140 million worth of damages. One fireman was killed in the incident and another 34 suffered health problems due to smoke inhalation and burns.

Fireworks are, without a doubt, beautiful and amazing to watch. They are also incredibly dangerous and should be treated as such. Never handle fireworks that are illegal in your local area and, if they are legal, make sure that you know what you are doing before you decide to launch them into the air.

If you or a loved one are injured in Fort Lauderdale this holiday weekend, please contact our office. Our attorneys are here for you and will review the details of your case at no cost. Call us today or browse our website for more information about our firm and how we can assist you.

About the Author

Michael Steinger
Michael Steinger

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MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.