Fireworks celebrations go badly wrong

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A pyrotechnics operator was taken to hospital in Christchurch last night after a device apparently went off in his face at a public display.

The man was apparently one of three or four working on the display at Woodford Glen Speedway in Kaiapoi. About 15 minutes into the show there was a louder than usual bang, and a firework shot off horizontally. Once the smoke cleared a member of the pyrotechnic team was seen lying on the ground motionless.

The Ambulance Service has confirmed one person was taken to hospital with facial injuries. Woodford Glen Speedway has held the pyrotechnics display for the last 30 years without any accidents.

In Auckland, the finger is being pointed at a specific type of firework, which misfired during a public display at Alexandra Park last night. Three young girls, aged 10,11, and 12, were taken to Starship Hospital with minor burns. They were later discharged. They were in the crowd at the display run by the Howick Lions Club.

Club president Tom Owen says an investigation was launched immediately following the incident and human error has been ruled out. He says the crew letting off the fireworks have more than 20 years experience, but fireworks displays are inherently dangerous.

He says they take every precaution, and the public themselves were well over 100 metres from where the crackers were being let off.

Tom Owen says they will not be using that type of firework in next year's display.

And a Glen Eden man was taken to Auckland Hospital by ambulance last night after a firework exploded into his eye. Auckland Ambulance spokesman Richard Swears says the man, aged in his early twenties, seems to have significant eye injuries.

Fireworks parties increased the number of call-outs in the northern region six-fold overnight. About 120 incidents were dealt with, compared with the usual 20 or so for a Saturday night.

Elsewhere, communications centres reported a busy night dealing with minor fires in backyards, but none took more than a few minutes to bring under control.

- NEWSTALK ZB

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