Fireworks safety tips from city officials on Independence Eve

11:41 PM, Jul 4, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Pleasure turned to panic on July 4, 2007 when a malfunction ended the city's fireworks display.

An errant shell exploded on the ground, starting a chain reaction of explosions that sent sparks, hot embers, and fiery projectiles into the crowd, sending them scrambling for safety. The concussion from the gunpowder shattered windows in nearby buildings, injuring at least 12 people, forcing city fire officials to take precautions ever since.

"All crowds are kept back at least 500 feet during the fireworks displays. This is to make sure there is a safe distance between the people and the fireworks, and also to have a place for people to quickly exit to should there be an issue," said St. Pete Fire Rescue's Lt. Joel Granata.

PICS: Fireworks from July 4, 2013

In addition, barricades and other safeguards and rules have been put in place both at the event site and for people who choose to celebrate with fireworks at home. In Pinellas County, fireworks that shoot into the air higher than eight feet are banned. Fire officials investigated fireworks stands to make sure no one is selling dangerous projectile-type novelties.

SEE ALSO: Fireworks rules differ from county to county

"If people are going to shoot off fireworks at home, make sure you do it safely, take all precautions, and never ignite fireworks that shoot into the air. Things like bottle rockets and roman candles can cause serious injury and blindness," said Granata.

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