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N.J. Fireworks Barge Catches Fire

July 5, 2001

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) _ A blaze on a fireworks barge off the coast of this resort city Wednesday night launched exploding shells into the air for about 30 minutes after the finale of a Fourth of July display.

Atlantic City police Sgt. Ken Brown said the Coast Guard rescued seven people from the barge, one of two being used to launch fireworks in the display. No serious injuries were reported.

The Coast Guard and the New Jersey State Police were battling the blaze, which was visible from three miles away. People on the city’s boardwalk could hear the shells exploding on the barge floating less than a mile offshore.

The fire began near the end of the display at about 9:30 p.m., and fireworks appeared to explode at random for about half an hour after it ended.

One person in the audience, David Greenspun, said some in the crowd believed the explosions were part of the show.

``There was one section of the fireworks display that was like a thousand shotgun blasts,″ Greenspun said. ``It seemed that would have been the grand finale. In fact there was a round of applause, at which point we started seeing more fireworks, but they were not taking off up into the sky. They were pouring down into the ocean.″

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