Calif. Fireworks Explosion Deemed "Industrial Accident"

By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran
By: CBS News, Posted by Chelsey Moran

(CBS News) Investigators are still trying to determine why a Fourth of July fireworks display went wrong near Los Angeles, injuring 39 people.

The Morales family was front row at the Simi Valley, Calif., show when fireworks started flying toward them.

Victor Morales Jr. recalled that moment: "We all flew back. I kid you not. I was lying on my back!"

An annual tradition, they camped out since Tuesday to get the closest spot and invited other families. They had 40 people total, many of them children.

Their brother Daniel is still recovering. A family member said he has stitches in the center of his nose and the explosion narrowly avoided his eyes.

Lorenzo, 12, spent the night in the hospital for burns and scrapes. The blanket he'd been sitting on was singed.

The Ventura County Fire Department has ruled this an industrial accident. Ventura County Fire Capt. Mike Lindberry said, "We've unloaded the mortars. We have broken down all mortar casings and loaded them into vehicles. They'll be transported back to the vendor."

The vendor is Bay Fireworks out of New York with a clean record since 1984. Dennis Brady, chief executive officer of the company, spoke to us by phone and expressed his condolences to the victims and said they are examining what went wrong. Brady said via phone, "From watching the video, it does appear that one shell started this chain reaction by detonating in the gun."

Gabriela Morales said, "It should have been safe all along, but we will go, we will still attend next year. No, we're not going to break tradition just because of this."

State fire code requires that in a case like this spectators are kept 350 feet away from the launch site. Investigators say at this point it appears that code was followed. The state fire marshal is expected to take over the investigation and arrive in Simi Valley on Tuesday.

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