Bombs prematurely bursting in air Thursday proved a little too close for comfort for Kyle officials who continue to investigate the cause of a malfunction during the city’s July 4 fireworks show.
However, quick actions by Kyle Fire Department officials, along with in-place safety measures, were key factors that helped to prevent any injuries or damage from happening and kept an explosively viral moment from turning disastrous.
Kerry Urbanowicz, Kyle Parks and Recreations Director, said the malfunction occurred roughly 9 to 10 minutes into what was supposed to be a 25 minute July 4 fireworks show.
The exact cause of the malfunction, however, is still unknown. The Hays County Fire Marshal’s office is investigating.
Urbanowicz said the malfunction led to “a few extra shells” firing off at once, according to members of the fireworks team employed by the city. Many of those shells went up in the air but didn’t go very high, Urbanowicz said.
The city has worked with the fireworks company, which was not identified, for roughly six years and currently has a $30,000 contract with them. The city has also held its fireworks show near the Plum Creek Golf Course clubhouse for the past nine years with no prior incidents.
Mark Schultz, Kyle Fire Marshal, said the resulting explosions led to several small grass fires popping up at once. Schutlz said fire officials quickly responded to the grass fires and extinguished several of them immediately.
Several other fires near the launch area were extinguished soon after fire officials got the okay from the fireworks contractor, Schultz said.
“We didn’t want to get too close because we didn’t know if all of the ordinance had gone off,” Schultz said.
Urbanowicz said everyone was outside of a 200-yard safety zone from the launch area that was supposed to be. However, a video posted on Twitter showed two people who were feet from the launch area.
Urbanowicz said Friday he hadn’t heard of anyone sneaking into the safety zone that was not affiliated with the fireworks crew or fire department.
Additionally, fire crews were stationed roughly 100 or so yards away, just in case of an emergency.
But the moment soon turned into an online viral sensation, picked up by local and national news media outlets. It stemmed from video recorded by a handful of people who captured the malfunction as it occurred.
Numerous people who saw the event happened also responded on the Hays Free Press’ Facebook post on the malfunction.
Gloria Rodriguez wrote she and her husband noticed the malfunction immediately. They heard the explosion and saw that the fireworks were way too close to the ground.
“We knew that was not good,” Rodriguez wrote. “It started off beautifully the colors were amazing. Thank God no one was injured and thank you 1st responders [sic].”
Kyle city leaders are now trying to find the best course of action following the premature ending of the event.
That includes the possibility of a re-do of the July 4 show or holding a fireworks show at the city’s annual Pie in the Sky festival during Labor Day weekend in September. Urbanowicz said any decision will be made by the Kyle City Council.
Kyle Mayor Travis Mitchell said city leaders will regroup and figure it out.