Eleven injured as firework shoots into crowd at display

Helen McCormack
Monday 07 November 2005 01:00
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Doctors were operating on a 10-year-old boy last night who suffered major burns to his legs after the firework flew into the 15,000-strong crowd at Wicksteed Park, an amusement park near Kettering in Northamptonshire.

Two other children were also in hospital after the accident shortly after 8pm on Saturday. The event had been organised by Kimbolton Fireworks, one of the UK's largest firework display companies.

The company apologised to the injured and their families as Northamptonshire Police said no criminal investigation would be carried out. A spokesman for Kimbolton, Ronel Lehmann, said: "We are very distressed this has happened and will be doing all we can to work with investigators to find out why."

Mr Lehmann said investigations would focus on a firework that flew into the crowd, but was unable to say whether it formed part of a batch made by the company or had been imported. He said the firework exploded but did not eject from the tube in which it was encased. It blew a hole in the tube instead of shooting into the air, which had a "cascade effect", blowing unexploded fireworks out of nearby tubes. One of these stray tubes ignited and shot towards the crowd.

Mr Lehmann said Kimbolton would look at any additional precautions it could take at future displays, but had decided to go ahead with six displays planned for last night.

Wicksteed Park said spectators were more than 180 metres from the point at which fireworks ignited - far more than the 50 metres the Health and Safety Executive considers safe - when the accident happened. One witness said the firework "rolled" the distance from where it should have been ignited to the barrier where spectators were. Peter Tait, of St John Ambulance, told the BBC: "A Catherine wheel, nailed to a post when it started spinning, fell off and rolled into the barriers that divided the crowd from the display."

The inquiry will be carried out by Kettering Borough Council. The park's managing director, John Roberts, said correct safety measures were in place and no one breached the safety cordon. The injured were "immediately attended to" by paramedics and members of St John Ambulance, he said.

"Police, some of whom were already on site, supported our operational staff to ensure our emergency plans were followed effectively," he said. "As with all our events, we had gone through a very thorough process of planning with the local authority and emergency services."

A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said it did not wish to comment until the investigation was over. But it said attending a professionally organised event was safer than holding a private display.

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