WATCH: The July 4 fireworks disaster in Simi Valley

At least 28 people were injured in a Los Angeles suburb when a fireworks extravaganza went horribly awry

Simi Valley fireworks mishap
(Image credit: YouTube)

A Fourth of July fireworks show at a public park in Simi Valley, Calif., had been going on for just a couple minutes when something went horribly wrong. According to witnesses, fireworks started shooting into the crowd of 8,000 to 10,000 spectators, leaving 28 people injured with burns or shrapnel-type injuries. There were, thankfully, no reported deaths. (Watch a news report above.)

"There was a big boom. Everybody started running down the street. People were screaming," Justice Allen, 17, tells the Los Angeles Times. "Everybody was just terrified. People hid in bushes."

What happened? Apparently, the platform being used to stage the extravaganza collapsed, sending a few fireworks sideways. Police have preliminarily ruled it an industrial accident. A Ventura County Sheriff Department bomb squad defused the remaining rockets.

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This being the age of smartphone cameras and YouTube, the explosion was captured in multiple amateur videos. This one captures the sense of normalcy being shattered. "That wasn't supposed to happen," says one man:

Here, the explosion is a little farther away, and it almost looks cinematic:

This video, from about 50 feet away, is the most dramatic of the bunch. It looks (and sounds) like a war zone:

In this final clip, overlooking the fireworks extravaganza from a nearby hill, you see that the show went on, at least for a minute or so. The explosions come in the first seconds of the video, and then you just get a normal panorama of people enjoying an otherwise normal Fourth of July spectacle:

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.