Fireworks Barge Accident Alton IL

 CNN 4 July 1997

Fireworks celebrations prove deadly

25 injured, 1 killed in accidents across U.S.

A fireworks display exploded during the a city Fourth of July celebration on a Mississippi River barge in Alton, Ill., on Thursday.

The 1997 Independence Day celebrations may be remembered for the number and severity of accidents occurring in professionally conducted fireworks displays.

Twenty-five people have been injured in incidents in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. One man died and two were presumed dead after a barge caught fire during a display Thursday night in Illinois.

Falmouth, Mass. A barge off the Cape Cod coast where workers were launching fireworks exploded Friday night, forcing 10 workers to jump overboard to escape the flames.

Thirty thousand people were watching when the barge off Falmouth caught fire.

You just saw an intense orange going to white fire that engulfed the entire barge said Cliff Brennan, a reporter with WCIB in Falmouth who witnessed the explosion.

All 10 workers were taken to local hospitals after the 9:30 p.m. ET explosion in Vineyard Sound. One man in his 60s suffered leg burns; the extent of the injuries weren't known.

Police boats, the harbor master and a tugboat rescued the workers, said Coast Guard Lt. Shannan Brown, who saw the explosion from a nearby lighthouse.

A fire boat doused the barge within a half-hour, she said.

Alton, Ill.; A barge loaded with fireworks exploded during a July 4th display on the Mississippi River Thursday night, killing one person and leaving two others missing.

Divers have stopped their search for the two men missing. They have been searching a stretch of the Mississippi River near Alton, Ill.

Donald Dugan, the Alton Fire Department chief, said survivors from the barge said a rocket that had been set off went up 10 feet but then fell back into the barge, causing the rest of the fireworks to explode.

Another person who had been on the barge for the blast was hurt, while a fifth person escaped injury, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Julius Tatum. The dead man's body was found on the barge.

Witnesses said the fireworks show had been going on for 10 or 15 minutes when the barge lit up in a big white glow.

The injured man was conscious when he arrived at St. Anthony’s Hospital with a leg injury, said spokeswoman Diane Schuette.

The man told doctors the blast & blew him about 10 to 15 feet away, and he made his way to a ledge on the boat and was rescued, Schuette said.

Alton is just north of St. Louis across the Mississippi River.

copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 
copyright 1997 MSNBC

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