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Operator: Malfunction issue in US fireworks blast

July 9, 2013

SANTA ANA, California (AP) — A U.S. fireworks company said bad fireworks appear to have caused a blast that injured more than three dozen people at a show in California and triggered problems at another one of its Independence Day events last week.

Dennis Brady Jr., chief executive of Bay Fireworks, said an apparent shell malfunction in the second event in California did not send fireworks flying toward the crowd.

“We did experience a similar shell malfunction at Laguna Hills using the same product,” Brady wrote in an email to The Associated Press. “Thankfully we did not experience the same chain reaction.”

He said the company is still waiting for official findings to be released.

State fire officials are investigating the cause of the July 4 accident northwest of Los Angeles, which sent shrapnel flying and wounded 39 people as many in the crowd of thousands fled for safety. Police initially said it appeared a firework exploded prematurely in its mortar, knocking over others and aiming them across the field.

The American Pyrotechnics Association said there were no immediate reports of widespread problems with a particular fireworks product over the holiday.

But troubles were reported at shows in the Southern California cities of San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Hills and Ojai, where a worker was injured.

In Orange County, Laguna Hills City Manager Bruce Channing said their show, also operated by Bay, was shut down almost as soon as it started by a fire marshal because one of the mortars exploded at or near the ground, damaging some of the wiring to the rest of the fireworks that had yet to go off.

Update hourly