LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The company behind Thursday night’s accident in Simi Valley that left nearly 30 people injured, has a good safety record, according to fireworks experts.
Bay Fireworks put on 15 other pyrotechnic shows in California last night.
The Simi Valley Police Department and Ventura County Fire are investigating the accident. The State’s fire marshal’s office will also try to determine what went wrong.
Bay Fireworks, established in 1984, produces hundreds of shows in California annually. The firm is based out of Long Island, New York.
The accident was the first of its kind, according to Art Barron, reporting for CBS2.
“We are working with the Ventura Fire Authority to determine the exact cause. As far as we can tell, there appears to have been a malfunction in one of the devices causing an explosion,” said the company’s CEO, Dennis Brady.
“It appears that the shell that exploded never left the ground. It appears that shell started a chain reaction,” Brady added.
The shell in question, said Brady, appeared to be a 5-inch mortar shell. California safety law requires at least 70 feet travel distance — for each inch of mortar shell — to insure safety.
The Ventura County Fire Department said they confirmed the crowd was at the specified and correct distance of 350 feet.
Julie Heckman, executive director of the American Pyrotechnics Association, said the accident could have been prevented.
But she also said Bay Fireworks “is a very reputable fireworks company. They’ve been in the business for a number of years. The fact they had an incident shouldn’t damage their reputation in the long term.”
Brady also told Barron his crew was out working with the Fire Authority to clean up the site and render it safe. He also deeply regrets that anyone got hurt in the incident.
He wants anyone who was injured to contact the Simi Valley Rotary Club to obtain the company’s insurance info, “or they can contact us.”
Mike Lindbergh with Ventura County Fire says Bay is in good standing with no violations on their license.
CBS2’s Stacey Butler learned Friday night that two other venues in Southern California had problems with Bay Fireworks shows.
At a Laguna Hills show, the fireworks went off and started circling the ground. She said the fire department shut the show down.
“We were watching the show and some were going off on the ground, I turned to my husband and said this is weird. I’ve never seen fireworks go off on the ground like that,” said witness Kitty Swanson. “When the fire department announced they were calling the show [off] everyone went ‘Noooooooooooo.'”
Butler said a show in San Juan Capistrano, per the OC Register, also was botched.
Al Newman, west coast sales rep for Bay Fireworks, told Butler, “We got some product that may have been defective.”