Fireworks packed an upexpected surprise

July 6, 2011 -- For those of you watching the spectacular fireworks display over the Hood River marina July Fourth, you may have left wondering a bit about an unusual pause in the action just prior to

For those of you watching the spectacular fireworks display over the Hood River marina July Fourth, you may have left wondering a bit about an unusual pause in the action just prior to the finale.

For those at the waterfront, there was little mystery, as the cause of the delay was evident in a split second of sparkling glory.

According to Russ Paddock, Eyeopeners Lions Club pyrotechnic-in-charge, one of the firework shells blew inside its plastic mortar tube, completely destroying one entire launch rack and five additional tubes.

"We had to stop. Shells were lying on the ground. We had to disconnect wires to shells and figure out which ones were attached to burned wires," said Paddock.

According to Paddock, this is the first time one of his state-of-the-art plastic tubes has blown. The blast sent debris in a 15-foot radius. Luckily, it was a tube in the middle of the rack.

"If the tube had been on the end and the rack had gone over sideways, it might have sent things all the way out over the Second Street overpass," said Paddock, "and that would have caused some excitement."

Once the initial crisis passed, the team of 15 additional Lions members and friends worked to successfully send up the finale. For those paying attention, the team also sent up the salvaged firework shells about half an hour after the finale.

"We had a show after the show," laughed Paddock, who has been doing his volunteer job to bring in the Fourth since 1978.

The explosion cost the Lions some equipment, including junction boxes, racks and cables.

"We were already about $3,000 short on the costs for this year's display," said Paddock. "Now we'll have to raise money to replace the destroyed equipment. People get a $45,000 show here for $15,000 with all of our volunteer labor. We could sure use the donations to help out. It'll cost another $500 to $1,000 to replace the destroyed equipment."

No one was injured during the event. The plastic mortar tubes are the safest possible launch equipment and shells are ignited by electronic controls, allowing volunteers to stay behind the safety lines.

"But every year I still worry," said Paddock, who places a high priority on safety. "I think we will be showing these photos to our supplier and ask them 'What happened?'"

Eyeopeners Lions can accept and will appreciate donations mailed to: 1767 12th St. #136, Hood River, OR 97031.

Latest stories

Latest video:

Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



Log in to comment

Columbia Gorge news and businesses