A platform built to hold the fireworks collapsed, and the pyrotechnics fell into the area where thousands of fans were watching the show.
“For some unknown reasons the structure that holds these ordinances collapsed and caused them to be firing into the crowd,” Simi Valley police Cmdr. Stephanie Shannon told The Associated Press
By 11:30 in the evening, authorities counted 28 people injured. 20 were transported to the hospital. 16 had minor injuries, and four were reported with ‘moderate to serious’ damage. Eight people were treated on the scene and released.
The injuries included burns, cuts from flying debris, and broken bones. None of the injuries was life threatening.
The number of those in the crowd was estimated at eight to 10 thousand. The closest spectators were at least 350 feet away from where the pyrotechnics were lit, in accordance with the fire code.
Witnesses said the explosion happened just minutes after the show began.
“We saw about three minutes of the show. There was some that went up in the area and everything just kind of scattered outwards and then everybody just started running,” a witness told NBC4.
“Everything exploded and parts came flying everywhere,” another witness told NBC4. “People were running everywhere. So, it was pretty scary.”
It happened about 9:20 p.m. PST at Rancho Santa Susana Community Center and Park, said Cmdr. John Parks, a watch commander for the Simi Valley Police Department.
Emergency medical teams were at the scene to monitor the show, so victims received treatment immediately.
Most of the fireworks remained intact and in their containers. The accident had the potential of being much more serious. The park was evacuated after the fireworks explosion went into the crowd in Simi Valley.
Alfred James reporting