Vail Daily column: Dodging disaster |

Vail Daily column: Dodging disaster

It took just a few seconds for Avon’s annual Salute to the USA celebration to go from “wow!” to “whoa!” From the looks of it, though, a bad situation could have been much, much worse.

For those of you who missed it, a 5-inch fireworks shell misfired in its launch tube during the July 3 celebration. That misfire knocked over a couple of other big shells, which then hurtled into the crowd at Nottingham Park.

That’s the first thing that could have been far worse than it was. Reports indicate that nine people were treated on the scene for what’s been described as “superficial” burns. Considering that even a common sparkler can burn at about 2,000 degrees, “superficial” burns from a couple of good-sized explosions have to be counted as good news.

In addition to good fortune, there was a lot of professionalism on display. Reports indicate that the show was shut down almost immediately after the first misfire. That shows the members of the 14-person crew running Avon’s display were paying close attention as shells flew into the sky. Paying attention is part of crew members’ jobs, of course. Still, quick action was needed, and the crew delivered.

There have also been good reports about the emergency responders on hand when the accident occurred. Police, fire and medical people were at the scene and working almost immediately. You can’t really ask for better response.

Looking forward, we’re confident that everyone involved in the response to the accident will use the July 3 incident as a way to improve safety and emergency responses in years to come.

We all need to remember, though, that there’s no such thing has “100 percent safe” when it comes to fireworks. While thrilling, fireworks require fire and explosives to work properly. No matter how much experience someone has, no matter how careful anyone can be, the combination of fire and explosives will sometimes get the best of its handlers. It’s actually somewhat surprising there aren’t more fireworks accidents, and it is a testament to the training fireworks pros go through all the time.

We’re already looking forward to next year’s Salute, and we are confident it will be as safe as humanly possible.

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