A fireworks explosion at a Fourth of July celebration in Simi Valley, California, injured at least 28 people on Thursday, according to authorities.
The fireworks improperly detonated during the Independence Day celebration, sending fireworks, sparks, and shrapnel toward the crowd.
The incident happened about 35 miles northwest of Los Angeles at Rancho Santa Susana community Park. The park was immediately evacuated and the show was stopped after the incident, which happened around 9:30 pm PDT. John Parks, watch commander at the Simi Valley police department, explained:
"We're still in the process of sorting out exactly what happened and treating the injured and evacuating them to area hospitals."
The Ventura County Fire Department, which assisted with the aftermath of the fireworks explosion, explained that the injuries sustained ranged from minor to moderate. While about 14 people were injured, it is not yet clear how many of them were transported to Simi Valley Hospital and Las Robles Regional Hospital.
Police explained that the fireworks accidentally detonated during the show. Precautionary measures taken before the show began led to a quick response from fire crews and EMTs. Parks explained:
"We had about 40 police personnel on scene as well as fire and ambulance people who were staged as part of the fireworks production for crowd and traffic control and security. So the response was really rapid and the people that were injured were attended to very quickly."
Video provided by news channels showed a triage center at the park where the injured were being wrapped up with gauze usually used for burn injuries. The injured were comprised of both adults and children, many of whom were hit by flying debris. Justice Allen, a 17-year-old Simi Valley resident who witnessed the fireworks explosion, recalled:
"There was a big boom, everybody started running down the street, people were screaming. Everybody was just terrified. People hid in bushes."
The explosion apparently happened about two minutes into the show. Other witnesses recalled seeing the fireworks shoot sideways instead of up in the air as they were supposed to be doing. Witness Annisa Wynn explained, "The fireworks were so close, you could see them on the ground."
UPDATE: While 28 people were injured in the California fireworks explosion, 20 were transported to area hospitals. Their conditions are not yet known.
[Image via ShutterStock]