Fireworks Accident Similar to Pittston Mishap

The company that set off the fireworks display that went dangerously wrong near Harrisburg Sunday has a history of shows that do not have happy endings.

That included a Fourth of July in our area when 50 people were hurt during a fireworks mishap.

Six years ago, the grand finale of the July Fourth fireworks in Pittston, Luzerne County malfunctioned. It caused several injuries and a small fire.

Those fireworks were set up by Schaefer Pyrotechnics of Lancaster County, the same company behind Sunday night’s fireworks near Harrisburg.

Sunday night, a fireworks charge misfired, causing the surrounding tubes to fall over near a football stadium in Lebanon County. That sent fireworks into the crowd, injuring four children and seven adults.

“All I remember is a blinding flash of light and me running around saying, ‘I’m hit!’” said Bonnie Miller.

For some in Pittston Sunday’s cell phone video from Palmyra, 106 miles away, looks eerily familiar.

July Fourth, 2004 fireworks near the Susquehanna River tilted over and launched charges at the crowd.

Fifty people were injured. Shrubs near Cooper’s Restaurant caught fire.

In both Palmyra, Lebanon County, 2010 and Pittston, Luzerne County, 2004 Schaefer Pyrotechnics of Ronks, Pennsylvania put on the shows that went awry.

In both cases, investigators said, fireworks problems were made worse by spectators too close to the launch sites.

In Palmyra investigators are wrapping up their probe. State police labeled what happened an accident and announced no criminal charges will be filed.

In Pittston six years ago the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, fined Schaefer $8,100.

The following year Pittston stopped doing business with Schaefer Pyrotechnics and has used another fireworks provider for its Fourth of July shows.

Schaefer’s vice-president tells the Harrisburg Patriot-News that it has put on 650 shows in the last three years and the accident in Lebanon County is the only mishap.

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