On the morning of July 4, a three people died and two others suffered personal injuries when a truck carrying fireworks for Ocracoke Island’s Fourth of July celebration exploded near the South Ferry Terminal, according to authorities in Hyde County.
According to Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell, shortly after 9 a.m. a crew of four men and one woman was on or near the truck when the explosion took place. According to a company statement, a crew from Melrose South Pyrotechnics was doing the town’s display.
According to witnesses, the explosion shook homes and businesses and emitted a smoke cloud that could be seen for miles.
One worker died instantly and four others received air transport to the North Carolina Jaycees Burn Center at UNC Hospitals and Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville.
A man, who suffered burns to 95 percent of his body, died later that afternoon, according to UNC Hospitals spokesman Clinton Colmenares. Tunnell said another patient died at Pitt Memorial late that evening.
A second victim at the Jaycees Burn Center suffered burns to 20 percent of his body, but was listed in fair condition, according to Colmenares. The second Pitt Memorial patient’s status has not been released.
According to Dr. Prashant Shankar of the Jaycee Burn Center, fireworks burns are explosive, so they have a more severe depth and intensity than other kinds of burns.
The cause of the explosion has yet to be determined.
In 2001, Catawba, South Carolina-based Melrose South Pyrotechnic incurred citations and fines of more than $45,000 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for a 2001 accident that killed one worker and injured another.
The OSHA report regarding the incident said that the employees were unpacking fireworks being returned from an Independence Day show. One employee saw an “orange flash” and yelled for those in the area to run. He suffered burns to his face but did not require hospitalization. The other employee was killed by flying debris.
According to the Associated Press, two employees of Melrose were injured in 2007 during a Fourth of July show at Fort Stewart, Georgia.
The cause of the explosion was determined by fire officials to be the premature detonation of a malfunctioning firework, which caused a chain reaction. Neither worker was badly injured.