Local News

Fatal explosion causes Ocracoke to cancel fireworks

Posted June 21, 2010

— A beach community in North Carolina where four people were killed as they unloaded fireworks a year ago won't have a July 4th fireworks display this year.

Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell said the Ocracoke Island community decided to forgo fireworks this year out of respect for the victims.

Last year, four people from Wayne County were killed and a fifth person was injured as they unloaded fireworks from a truck on Ocracoke Island.

Survivor Martez Holland, 27, said he and four co-workers were contracted by South Carolina-based Melrose South Pyrotechnics to set up the island’s pyrotechnics display.

Terry Holland, 49, Mark Hill, 21, Charles Kirkland Jr., 49, and Lisa Simmons, 41, were inside a truck working on fuses when it exploded. State and federal officials ruled the explosion accidental.

Tunnell says Ocracoke will hold its usual parade, which will end with a memorial for the four killed. A flag-raising ceremony, sand sculpture contest and antique car show will also go on as planned.

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  • Mugu Jun 21, 2010

    Americans are quick to ban something if there is an incident, they are not as resilient as they used to be.

  • fisherphil Jun 21, 2010

    sorry these people got hurt, but at least the plovers will not be disturbed by the expolsions. The Southeren Evviromental Law Center, Defenders of Wildlife and Audubon Society have worked very hard to keep the nearby beaches closed to pedestrians and OVR. We have kept all the inlet off limts for the birds all summer, now the can nest without people or explosions hurting them

  • Boostershot Jun 21, 2010

    To Justin T: Following this logic... if someone gets killed unloading a grocery truck in Ocracoke... eating food would be outlawed. If I were involved, the show would go on specifically to honor the folks who put their lives on the line to entertain people.

    Justin, since you did not have any family members to lose their lives preparing for this event last year, I believe your comment about outlawing food if someone gets killed unloading a grocery truck is way off base.

  • musiced Jun 21, 2010

    Why is it not possible just to take folks at their word and simply honor those who died in this terrible mishap? A little respect here, please.

  • pyrosinthesky Jun 21, 2010

    As a pyro, there are very specific laws on how fireworks are to be packaged, loaded on a truck, unloaded. True, the certification tests are not that difficult, they are mostly common sense, but there are a few things you learn that you wouldn't think of. Static electricity is the biggest problem outside of being just plain stupid. You also need to know safe shooting distances and other best practices. The tests are based off of NFPA 1123, 1124 and 1126 along with other NC fire codes. NC probably went a little overboard in what it takes to get certified, but I would err of the side of caution anyway.

    There are a lot of rumors of what actually happened at Ocracoke, but for the truck to explode, some very basic safety procedures were not followed that no one with any experience in the business would have done.

  • USA Jun 21, 2010

    Justin T. - I agree with you 100% I believe this is more a funding issue then paying respect.

  • anonemoose Jun 21, 2010

    Where did I read that they passed a law banning the show? I read that they merely decided not to do it out of respect for the victims. Personally I would have made arrangements for all the families to be there and asked for a special show be put together for them to honor them. Tell me who else gets a fireworks show to celebrate their life?

  • Justin T. Jun 21, 2010

    Following this logic... if someone gets killed unloading a grocery truck in Ocracoke... eating food would be outlawed. If I were involved, the show would go on specifically to honor the folks who put their lives on the line to entertain people.

  • John Sawtooth Jun 21, 2010

    I don't think I ever heard exactly what caused the ignition. Weren't two of the deaths people who were the actual shooters hired for the show ? I agree simple loading is just strong-back work, but I thought two of the people were the actual folks who put on the shows.

  • Whatever Geez Jun 21, 2010

    I can't remember exactly why they went off; but it could have happened with someone that had been doing this for the past 30 years...

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