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Ocean City still investigating cause of Fourth of July premature fireworks explosion

A large amount of fireworks were set off unintentionally on the Ocean City beach, officials said, during preparations for a professional Fourth of July show.

Authorities still don’t know what caused the premature explosion of a large amount of fireworks in Ocean City on the Fourth of July that injured one person and prompted the cancellation of all of the town’s planned fireworks shows.

During the set-up for a downtown Fourth of July fireworks show in Ocean City near the boardwalk, a firework “prematurely and unintentionally discharged,” setting off a chain reaction of other fireworks and injuring a fireworks company employee who refused to go to the hospital, Ocean City spokeswoman Jessica Waters said in an email.

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The fireworks had been removed from the delivery truck and were in the set-up area where the display was supposed to take place when the explosion began, according to Waters.

While The Town of Ocean City’s Office of the Fire Marshal does not know the exact reason for the explosion, Waters said authorities do not believe it was intentional.

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After the explosion near Dorchester Street and the boardwalk, Ocean City officials canceled the other fireworks show planned for Northside Park as well as a private show at Seacret’s bar.

Waters said the shows had to be canceled because authorities didn’t, and still don’t, know if faulty equipment was to blame for the explosion.

“Without the ability to rule out a damaged and/or faulty product, concern for a similar issue occurring at sites with the same product was a possible public safety risk,” Waters said in an email.

When the explosion happened, all preparations for the show in Northside Park were put on hold as bomb technicians analyzed the scene. Waters said if officials had allowed the show to go on, staff would have been rushed for time.

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“Rushing the safe setup of fireworks at the other sites, which typically takes several hours, would have placed the fireworks workers at an increased risk. It was based on these cumulative risks that all the shows were canceled as public safety was, and remains, our first priority,” Waters said in an email.

After the explosion, officials put up a perimeter around the site and closed off part of the boardwalk.

Around 6:25 p.m. on July 4, the remaining fireworks at the explosion site were re-detonated to ensure all the fireworks had exploded and the site could be safely cleaned up without risk of another incident, according to Butch Arbin, captain of the Ocean City Beach Patrol.

Arbin said the site is now clear and the beach is entirely open.

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