SIMI VALLEY (July 4, 2013) – at least 36 people were injured when a platform holding fireworks for a fireworks show collapsed during the show, causing the fireworks to discharge into the spectators instead of the air. The accident occurred at the Rancho Santa Susana Community Park in Simi Valley on Thursday. At least 14 of the spectators were taken to Simi Valley Hospital by ambulance.
The injuries included burns, shrapnel, trampling wounds and chest pains.
At least 8 people between the ages of 5 and 42 went to Los Robles Hospital and Medical Center in Thousand Oaks. Five of them were taken by ambulance.
It is believed that one of the fireworks discharged prematurely, lighting other and causing a platform to turn over. Spectators reported sparks and fireworks exploding in the middle of the crowd, causing widespread panic and resulting in people running over one another.
Danny Morales, a Simi Valley resident, was hit between the eyes by discharged fireworks and shrapnel, causing facial injuries and lacerations and potential scarring.
The show was sponsored by the Simi Valley Rotary Club, who hired Bay Fireworks, a New York-based company. The company asked anyone injured in Thursday’s show to contact the Simi Valley Rotary Club to obtain insurance information for Bay Fireworks. Typically, in order to obtain a permit for a fireworks show, a company must apply to the State Fire Marshal for a permit and a requirement of obtaining the permit is having insurance. California law requires a minimum of $1,000,000 combined single limits (personal/property) per occurrence annually. Considering the number of claims and the severity of some of the injuries, injured victims are hoping there are other available insurance policies. Claimants must file claims and hope to be treated fairly. Short of that, claimants must file a lawsuits or complaints against the insurance company. Even small burn injuries on a single person are valued by juries in the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the permanence and discomfort of the injury.
In this instance, the Simi Valley Rotary Club, may be liable as well as the manufacturer of the fireworks in question. Claimants and their attorneys must investigate whether all laws were followed. For example, in California, fireworks must be classified and registered by the State Fire Marshal. The State seal of registration must be applied to all classified fireworks. Labeling, record keeping, transportation, manufacturing and storage safety requirements are all regulated, and all employees should be registered with the State Fire Marshal. If these laws were not followed, there may be additional liability for wilful violations of the law.
Every year, about 50 professional shows are held throughout Los Angeles County on the Fourth of July. The National Fire Protection Association states that in 2010:
- Fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 fires, eight deaths, and an estimated $36 million in direct property damage;
- Hospital ER’s treated an estimated 8,600 people for fireworks-related injuries, including burn injuries;
- Fireworks can give off temperatures that can exceed 1,100 degrees when sparking or exploding;
- Fireworks two times as likely to injure children ages 5-14 than the general population.