Webster Groves cancels Saturday fireworks but fair continues

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WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. – The city of Webster Groves decided to cancel Saturday’s scheduled firework program after several people were injured during Thursday’s Independence Day Firework Show.

A mortar shell exploded improperly about 13 minutes into the 20-minute show. The horizontal shell traveled towards the safety fencing and exploded, sending fragments and sparks over the fence and into the crowd.

Eleven people were treated and released at the fair after a city official said through a statement that a mortar shell exploded improperly and caused the adjacent mortar tube to discharge the next shell in a near horizontal manner towards the crowd.

The city promised a full and transparent review into what happened. The rest of the fair—known as Community Days—will continue.

The Webster Groves Lions Club has been an integral part of the fair for decades. The group helps fund several charitable efforts. They will continue to serve up their barbecue and hope visitors will still turn out on Saturday when the fair runs from noon until 11 p.m.

“We are still here so please come out and check us out,” said Webster Groves Lions Club President Becky Speeler.

Anyone purchasing a $25 wristband can have all-day access to the rides. The wristband purchase will also allow visitors free admission to the city’s Aquatic Center and free Cosmic Skate Ice Rink admission from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“We’ve got the smaller rides for the young ones running around, we’ve got the family rides for the parents that want to ride with the kids and we’ve got the thrill rides for the thrill seekers," Speeler said.

Statement from the City of Webster Groves:

"The City of Webster Groves contracted with J&M Displays, Inc. of Yarmouth, Iowa, with local offices in Dittmer, Missouri, for its Independence Day Firework show. At approximately the thirteen (13) minute mark of a scheduled twenty (20) minute show a mortar shell exploded improperly. This caused the adjacent mortar tube to discharge the next shell in a near horizontal manner towards the crowd.

"The National Fire Protection Association standards call for a safety area of seventy (70) feet per diameter inch of mortar shell. J&M Displays, Inc., was permitted to use up to a three (3) inch shell, for a two hundred and ten (210) foot safety radius. The City of Webster Groves installed safety fencing greater than 340 feet from the launch location. That is more than 150% of the standard safety distance.

"The horizontal shell traveled towards the safety fencing and exploded sending fragments and sparks over the fence and into the crowd. Eleven (11) people were treated and released from the scene by on-duty City of Webster Groves EMS personnel stationed at the Community Days grounds.

The City has determined that it will not host tomorrow night’s July 6, fireworks show. Our primary focus is always the safety and welfare of the individuals that choose to attend our programs and activities. We are committed to a full, complete and transparent review of everything that occurred on July 4. We must determine that every possible safety measure for this venue be reviewed and implemented to assure the safety of our spectators."

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