Spectators at the Cortez Fourth of July fireworks show got a little more fire than they expected after a shell exploded on the ground Tuesday night.
About halfway through the show, which was held at a crowded Parque de Vida at dusk, a 5-inch shell went off prematurely, causing the fiberglass launching tube to go up in flames, according to organizer Keenan Ertel.
It took firefighters about 15 minutes to put out the fire, and no injuries were reported. Ertel said he believed the accident was caused by a faulty shell rather than human error.
“We’ve had grass fires in the past ... but this was the first time I’ve had a shell go off in the tube,” Ertel said. “Hopefully it’ll be the last.”
He said the trailer he used as a launch pad was not damaged. Firefighters, who were at the park in case of an emergency, called in another emergency vehicle while putting out the fire, but Ertel said it was a precautionary request.
“Nobody got even their finger burned,” Ertel said.
The fire did cause a significant delay in the show, but Ertel said he tried to make up for it by rapidly launching the bulk of his scheduled fireworks during the final few minutes in a bright, loud finale. He said the only fireworks he didn’t launch were the rest of the 5-inch aerial shells.
“I hope people weren’t too disappointed,” he said.
On the same night, the Mancos fireworks show had a similar mishap when sparks from a firework started a small grass fire toward the end of the event.