By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
Sea Isle City is receiving a discount from a fireworks company whose Fourth of July show was cut short by an explosion aboard a barge being used to launch the pyrotechnics just offshore.
Pyrotecnico Fireworks Inc., of New Castle, Pa., has agreed to give Sea Isle a $15,000 credit for the show. However, the discount will be partly offset by a $2,500 “barge fuel surcharge” that the city will credit to Pyrotecnico for higher gas costs.
In all, Sea Isle will net $12,500 from the agreement, according to a City Council resolution that summarizes the terms. Council is expected to approve the deal with Pyrotecnico at its meeting Tuesday.
“We thought that the $15,000 was a very reasonable discount based on the amount of the fireworks show that went on,” city spokeswoman Katherine Custer said in an interview Monday.
Representatives from Pyrotecnico could not be reached for comment.
Custer estimated that the shortened Fourth of July show included only about two-thirds of the fireworks that were scheduled to go off.
“Obviously, some people were very disappointed,” she said of the thousands of holiday revelers who watched the fireworks.
Sea Isle originally paid the company $49,000 to stage the fireworks display. Custer said the city has hired Pyrotecnico for years for the Fourth of July shows.
“The fireworks company has been very professional and very good to work with and we have generally been very pleased with the products they supplied,” she said.
The fireworks display got underway at 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July as planned, but about two minutes into the show there were occasional gaps in the pyrotechnics being launched from a barge anchored in the ocean off the 50th Street beach.
A short time later, there was an explosion on the barge apparently caused by one of the 6-inch fireworks shells igniting inside its tube before it could launch into the air. The explosion resulted in further delays and a shortened fireworks show overall, according to a Sea Isle news release.
None of the Pyrotecnico employees who were on the barge were injured during the explosion. Authorities said the workers were protected from the explosion by a solid metal safety box known as a “shooter shack.”
Both the fireworks barge and a tugboat returned safely to their dock after the show ended, according to the release.
Sea Isle officials were told that all safety precautions were in place prior to and during the show.
Social media was filled with photos and comments posted by people who saw the explosion but were unsure what had happened. Many of the posters expressed relief that no one was injured. Others described the scene as “scary.”
Custer said Sea Isle’s fire inspector worked with Pyrotecnico when the company looked into the explosion. She didn’t know whether a formal investigation of the incident would be conducted by an outside agency.