The lone survivor of the recent North Carolina fireworks accident on Ocracoke Island on July 4 in which four people were killed and one suffered serious personal injuries, 27-year-old Martez Holland, said on July 7 that the blast occurred “without much warning” and that he was the only one able to get off the truck before the explosion.
Holland was one of five Wayne County resident contracted by South Carolina-based Melrose South Pyrotechnics to set up Ocracoke Island’s Independence Day celebration fireworks display. Holland, who suffered burns to 20% of his body, including his arms and face, described hearing a “big spark” and a “big boom” before jumping off the truck.
As of July 7, he was listed in fair condition at North Carolina Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals. Holland said the explosion occurred as he and the crew had parked the truck and were preparing to work on the fireworks’ fuses. Holland said that his uncle, 49-year-old Terry Holland, 29-year-old Mark Hill, 31-year-old Charles Kirkland Jr., and 41-year-old Lisa Simmons were in the center of the vehicle at the time of the blast.
According to Dr. Bruce Cairns, director for the burn center, Terry Holland suffered burns to 100 percent of his body, which were injuries Cairns said were “just not survivable.”
Family members say that at least two of the victims, Terry Holland and Simmons, had been trained to handle fireworks.
The explosion was ruled accidental by state and federal officials.
However, American Pyrotechnics Association executive director Julie Heckman said that fireworks are extensively tested and do not “just mass explode.” She says it is likely that it will be discovered that there was some fireworks safety violation made by the crew.