Friday, June 30, 2017

Celebrations Fireworks female worker received life-threatening injuries to her hands after a firework shell(s) explosion at its Slatington facility in PA

During 16 years of operating Celebrations Fireworks, John Kemps remained thankful he could say “zero” when asked about the number of major accidents at his business.

That changed Friday morning as he drove to work and got the phone call he always dreaded — one of his workers was being rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries to her hands after an explosion at his Slatington facility.

Kemps was visibly shaken while talking outside his business after the explosion, which happened at the beginning of the busiest weekend of the year as his crews prepare fireworks for Fourth of July celebrations in the community.

“I am quite distraught because we have an employee who is injured quite badly,” he said. “I also know that the public wants what we do for the holiday and we don't want to disappoint them. But I am worried about her.”

He did not identify the 38-year-old Lehighton woman injured in the explosion that occurred around 7:15 a.m. at the facility at 7911 Seventh St.

An employee who called 911 about the injured woman told a police radio dispatcher he had to hang up when a second explosion suddenly rang out, fire officials said.

Around 8 a.m., dispatchers said fire crews had the blaze under control and began to ventilate the building. I am quite distraught because we have an employee who is injured quite badly. — John Kemps, owner of Celebration Fireworks

Kemps, owner and president of Celebration Fireworks, said he believes one of the electric matches — a device attached to each firework shell that enables operators to safely fire it from a distance — ignited and caused the first explosion.

He said the injured woman has been a part-time worker at the facility for several years and her father is also an employee.

Kemps said his employees were upset and and still processing what happened.

“They understand the nature of what we do and they know it could have been them,” Kemps said. “This is the first time we’ve had [an incident] since we started in 2001. I was trying to keep it to zero.”

Kemps said “from Day One” his company has used the electric matches to ignite fireworks because he believes it is much safer than hand lighting the explosives with a flare.

PHOTO GALLERY: Emergency crews respond to Celebrations Fireworks in Slatington early Friday, June 30, 2017, after a series of explosions.

At the scene Friday morning, several fire companies were at the plant and the entrance to it was closed. Emergency radio calls said the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had been contacted and agents from the closest field office would respond. Messages left for the ATF were not returned.

The Allentown Bomb Squad was also on site.

According to its website, Celebration Fireworks is a regional fireworks display company serving eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The company designs and produces its own equipment for use in professional displays for holidays, community festivals, weddings, corporate events and more. The company has been open since 2001 and at the Slatington location since 2012.

Kemps said anywhere from five to 15 employees are working at the facility on any given day preparing fireworks, and there are hundreds of employees to help set up displays.

Fireworks displays in Bethlehem, Breinigsville and Lehighton are some of Celebration Fireworks’ biggest shows, but the company is also involved in 20 other displays, Kemps said.

By Friday afternoon, authorities determined that Celebrations Fireworks crews would be able to continue to prepare fireworks displays for the holiday weekend.

Emergency crews were on the scene where a 38-year-old woman suffered "life-threatening" injuries in a series of explosions Friday morning at Celebrations Fireworks in Slatington. (LEHIGH VALLEY DRONE / SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL)

But no fireworks will be manufactured by the company until investigators tried to piece together exactly how the explosions occurred.

As fire crews arrived, they found the injured woman in an office away from the explosion site, said Slatington Fire Chief Jason Nicholas.

Crews applied tourniquets to both arms, which were burned and damaged by flying shrapnel, Nicholas said.

The explosions and blaze were ruled accidental, but the ATF would still have to determine exactly what sparked them, Nichols said.

There is structural damage to the barn area where the explosion occurred, but a storage and office facility were not affected, Nicholas said.

Some fireworks that were damaged in the explosion were detonated in a nearby field, Nicholas said.

Kemps spoke briefly about the injured woman.

"It pains me deeply because she is a very nice lady and she has been very helpful to us,” he said. “I hope she has really good surgeons.”

Emergency crews perform a controlled detonation after an earlier explosion at Celebrations Fireworks in Slatington on Friday morning. (LEHIGH VALLEY DRONE / SPECIAL TO THE MORNING CALL)


Owner confirms worker badly hurt in fireworks plant blast

The Associated Press


An apparent ignition malfunction at a Pennsylvania fireworks company caused at least one explosion that badly injured a worker, the owner said Friday.

John Kemps, owner and president of Celebration Fireworks said an electric match might have worked improperly, causing the blast about 7:20 a.m. The electric match devices are attached to each firework shell and are used to ignite them.

Emergency workers said the female employee's injury is potentially life-threatening, Kemps said. The woman's name was not immediately released.

Kemps said the woman is a part-time employee whose father also works at the plant in Washington Township, near Slatington, about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

"Accidents unfortunately do happen in this industry," Kemps told The (Allentown) Morning Call at the scene. "I am quite distraught because we have an employee who is injured quite badly. I also know that the public wants what we do for the holiday, and we don't want to disappoint them. But I am worried about her."

Kemps said the other workers "understand the nature of what we do, and they know it could have been them. This is the first time we've had (an explosion) since we started in 2001. I was trying to keep it to zero."

Five to 15 workers are typically at the plant each day, Kemps said. The company produces fireworks and displays for weddings, holidays, community events and other occasions in eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, according to its website. The facility is licensed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Kemps said.

The ATF and federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration were responding to the explosion and fire. The length of their investigation — and whether the company must remain shut down during it — could impact Celebration's ability to fill Fourth of July orders, Kemps said.

A Lehigh County 911 dispatch supervisor said crews had the fire under control within an hour, but would remain on the scene indefinitely.

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2 pilots seriously injured after a 1975 Cessna 310R crashed and burned onto the 405 freeway, approximately 1,000 feet from John Wayne Airport runway Friday morning

Plane Crash Near John Wayne Airport On 405 Freeway, Major Injuries Reported: BREAKING: A small plane crash near John Wayne Airport Friday morning closed the Southbound 405 freeway. Two were pulled from the wreckage.

By Ashley Ludwig (Patch Staff) - 

Updated June 30, 2017 2:36 pm ET

NEWPORT BEACH, CA — A small plane crashed onto the 405 freeway, approximately 1,000 feet from John Wayne Airport runway Friday morning. A full freeway shutdown and a brief closure of the airport to arriving flights followed as emergency vehicles responded to the scene.

As of 11:15 a.m. the 405 Southbound at MacArthur remained closed to traffic due to emergency vehicles, cleanup and investigation into the crash. One lane of traffic allowed stopped vehicles to move through the closure in the HOV lane, according to on-scene video. All drivers headed southbound 405 in that area were advised to seek alternate routes, according to California Highway Patrol.

Two people in the aircraft, a man and a woman said to be in their 50s and 60s, were pulled from the plane and were being treated for major injuries, Orange County Fire Authority Captain Larry Kurtz said.

Audio just prior to the crash was released, and the man piloting the plane could be heard shouting "May Day" and "I can't make it back to the airport" seconds before the crash.

According to FAA spokesperson Ian Greggor, the twin-engine Cessna 310 departed from John Wayne Airport Friday morning.

"The pilot declared an emergency shortly after taking off and was trying to return to the airport when the plane crashed on the southbound 405 Freeway short of Runway 20R," Greggor said. "FAA inspectors were en route to the scene shortly after the crash occurred."

Though all flights in and out of John Wayne Airport have resumed back to normal, officials have braced for a long-term closure of the 405 Southbound.

According to on-scene reports, the Cessna 310 crash landed on the 405 short of the runway at just after 9:30 a.m. Friday morning and subsequently caught fire, sending a smoke plume visible for miles. The condition of the pilot and passenger, pulled from the craft, is unclear at this time.

The plane crash was first reported by eyewitnesses as smoke clouds from the event could be seen for miles, and debris was reported in the area on the 405 southbound.

The small plane initially impacted at the northbound 405 freeway, according to initial statements from the scene where the Cessna 310 aircraft was being doused with foam by Orange County Fire Authority firefighters.

The southbound freeway was at a complete stop as of 11:15 a.m., according to California Highway Patrol.
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There is a SIGAlert just north of MacArthur Boulevard, near John Wayne Airport in the Irvine area, according to California Highway Patrol.

"The freeway has been closed in both directions and it is unclear if anyone was injured in the crash," a CHP spokesperson said. According to officers at the scene, the southbound 55 to the southbound 405 was at a dead stop as of 10:15 a.m.

Live footage from the scene showed hundreds of vehicles stranded on the roadway.

The airport was closed to arrivals for approximately 30 minutes following the crash, John Wayne Airport Public Relations Information Officer Deanna Thompson said over Twitter.

"Departing flights were not affected," Thompson said.

The downed plane is a 1975 Cessna 310R fixed wing multi engine plane that seated six, though only two passengers were reported removed from the aircraft. It is owned by Twin Props Corporation of Santa Ana according to registration.

Date: 30-JUN-2017
Time: 09:30 LT
Cessna 310R
Owner/operator: Twin Props 87297 LLC
Registration: N87297
C/n / msn: 310R0506
Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities: 0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location: near John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA), Santa Ana, CA - United States of America
Phase: Take off
Nature: Private
Departure airport: John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA)
Destination airport:

The aircraft crashed onto Freeway 405 northwest of John Wayne-Orange County Airport (KSNA), Santa Ana, California. The aircraft was partially consumed by the ensuing fire and the two occupants onboard were injured.


Crop-dusting pilot John Goerger with Wilbur Ellis Co killed after his Air Tractor 602 plane crashed in a bean field 1,500 feet south of Highway 13, just nine miles west of Gwinner, ND

UPDATE (7:11): John Goerger from Barney has been identified as the pilot in the deadly plane crash near Gwinner, North Dakota.

Officials with Wilbur-Ellis, where Goerger was employed for 11 years, confirmed his identity after family could be notified.

UPDATE (2:00): At 7:41 Thursday morning a 2010 Air Tractor 602 agricultural spray plane crashed in a bean field 1,500 feet south of Highway 13, just nine miles west of Gwinner. 

The pilot, an adult male from Barney died in the crash. The plane took off from the Lisbon airport and crashed a short time later. Fog was present at the time of the crash.

The crash is still under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

ORIGINAL: Travis Paeper with the Sargent County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that a man is dead after a plane crashed 8 miles west of Gwinner, ND.
Paeper says the crash happened around 8 Thursday morning. An area farmer witnessed the crash. 

The plane that went down was an Air Tractor 602. 

Police say the dense fog may have been a factor of the crash. The man's identity is being withheld until family is notified.

Type:Silhouette image of generic AT6T model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Air Tractor AT-602
Owner/operator:Wilbur Ellis Co
Registration: N4196Y
C/n / msn: 602-1183
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Airplane damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:8 miles west of Gwinner, Sargent County, SD -   United States of America
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:Lisbon Muni (6L3)
Destination airport:Lisbon Muni (6L3)
The aircraft impacted farm field terrain during an aerial application flight west of Gwinner, North Dakota. The airplane was destroyed. The sole pilot on-board was fatally injured. He was employed for 11 years in this company.
Weather may have been a factor to the incident. Fog was present at the time of the crash.


HAIL HELL IN NEBRASKA: Storms moved fast and furious into the metro late Thursday dropping baseball-sized hail and leaving a trail of damaged property.

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Storms moved fast and furious into the metro late Thursday dropping baseball-sized hail and leaving a trail of damaged property.

Golf ball-sized hail was reported in Benson and other parts of Omaha. Viewers documented damage to windows and cars. A hail stone smashed through a window in Char Scotchmer Secondo’s home near 36th and Leavenworth.

Reports of hail 3-4" in diameter fell in Dundee, Benson and Keystone. Photos show dense hailstones broke through a skylight in a home in Irvington.

OPPD reported about 300 customers in Douglas County lost power due to the storms. Crews are working to restore power in the area.

A car dealership on the corner of 52nd and NW Radial took a big hit; most cars in the lot had spidered windshields and heavy dent damage.

As storms moved east they dropped golf ball-sized hail on Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Roger, who lives near 50th and Miami, said he heard the hail coming down and knew there wasn’t anything he could do. He waited until after it subsided and went outside to inspect his car.

“I’ve lived here since 1985 and we get hail, but nothing like this. It’s the first time we’ve had this much damage in my area right here,” Roger told WOWT 6 News.

His windshield was cracked and his back window was shattered. The full extent of damage done by the late night storm will be assessed Friday.

Three construction workers were injured at the San Diego Zoo on its new Africa Rocks exhibit

SAN DIEGO, CA – Three people were taken to hospitals after getting injured at a construction site at the San Diego Zoo Thursday.

Three people who are contracted to work on the zoo property were injured around 10:30 a.m., according to a San Diego Fire-Rescue Department official. Two of them were taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital and the third person went to UCSD Medical Center.

The extent of the injuries was unknown. No details regarding what caused them to get hurt were immediately released.

No animals were injured.

Zoo officials released the following statement:

"An accident occurred this morning at a construction site at the San Diego Zoo. San Diego Zoo Global staff were not involved and we do not have information about the incident for staff to share."

It was not clear at which construction site the injured contractors were working, but the zoo told FOX 5 there are currently two that are active: a bridge being built near Elephant Odyssey and the Africa Rocks exhibit slated to open Saturday.

FOX 5 reached out to Africa Rocks contractor SJ Rocks Inc., who said their employees had minor injuries after being hit with a hose. However, the zoo has not confirmed the accident occurred at that site.

Some visiting the zoo said they heard sirens but were unsure what they were for.

“You don’t expect it. It’s a worrisome time if you’re confused about what’s happening in there. You’re here to have some fun,” said Chris Metcalfe, visiting from Connecticut.


SAN DIEGO, CA (KGTV) - Three workers at the San Diego Zoo were taken to the hospital Thursday after suffering undisclosed injuries.

According to San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Media Manager Monica Munoz, emergency crews received a report at about 10:30 a.m. of three workers contracted to work at the zoo injured on the property.

Two of the workers were taken to Scripps Mercy Hospital, while the other was transported to UC San Diego Medical Center.

Munoz said the extent of the workers' injuries are unknown.

10News received a report that the incident involved a hose and construction workers.The zoo has construction underway on its new Africa Rocks exhibit, which is set to open this weekend for Fourth of July visitors.