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Crowd flees as fireworks boxes all explode at once

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  • by IAN SWANSON
 

A COMMUNITY bonfire night turned to terror when dozens of boxes of fireworks exploded unexpectedly.

The crowd watching the annual Bonfire Night show at Pentland Community Centre in Oxgangs fled to safety as the fireworks erupted in all directions.

A little boy was reported slightly injured and a girl was said to have been taken to hospital.

A video posted on YouTube quickly attracted comments.

One said: “Unreal, who the hell would do fireworks so near buildings anyway. Thank God the girl who got hit is ok.”

Another said: “Hope no one got hurt. This is why fireworks should be banned.”

News also emerged of the reported casualties.

One message on YouTube said: “A little boy was injured but thankfully it’s a little scratch on his neck – other thank that it was a very good night.”

And another said: “The wee girl is ok she had a bit of grit in her ear so they took her to hospital and she had a tiny burn she was mostly just scared.”

Another person who had been at the display commented: “Fraid we won’t be there next year. Usually it’s so good, but that was really scary.”

Others took a less critical view. One said: “A fireworks display to remember! Never heard so many kids so excited – after they got over the initial fright that is. I think we can guess what everyone will be talking about at school.”

And another posted: “It’s the first time that I’m glad I never forced my way right to the front to see the fireworks.”

Colinton/Fairmilehead Tory councillor Jason Rust said he had been at the community centre earlier in the evening but was not there when the fireworks exploded.

He said: “I’m very sorry to hear children may have been hurt and I hope they will be all right.”

Police said they had been made aware of the incident.

A spokesman said: “Concern was raised by a member of the public when it would appear some fireworks went astray and caused the crowd to scatter to escape.”

Lothian and Borders Fire service said they had around 400 calls in 24 hours.

In two incidents, police had to be called as fire crews came under attack.

The fire service said it had attended 78 bonfires which had to be put out and another 62 supervised bonfires where no action was needed.

Today the chairperson of the community centre said it had been a “freak accident”.

Dennis Williams said: “The management committee would like to express our sincere apologies for any upset caused following the unfortunate incident at our annual firework display on Monday evening.

“One of the rockets misfired towards the end of the display, and ricocheted into the remaining undetonated fireworks, setting them off all at once. This was a freak accident, and most regrettable, but this is the first incident we have had in 10 years of holding this popular community event, and we extend our apologies to everyone who was alarmed.

“We will be reviewing our safety protocols, but it must be stressed that this is a well organised event, approved by the City of Edinburgh Council and the emergency services, and it is a fact of life that sometimes unforeseen things happen, despite the best of planning and precaution.”

Bonfire night marred as youths attack firefighters attending blazes and fireworks thrown at cars and buses

By JEN LAVERY

Bonfire Night was again marred by antisocial behaviour with firefighters attacked by youths armed with fireworks as they attended a blaze in the north west of the city.

Three appliances rushed to the scene in Ferry Road Drive after a garage containing gas cylinders, which was connected to a tenement block, went up in flames just before 7pm. The crew was using a thermal imaging camera to establish the number and location of the cylinders when they came under attack. Police were called to the scene to disperse the youths.

A spokesman for the Fire Service said another appliance attending a bin fire at a swing park on Holyrood Road had also been targeted by youths just before 8pm. There were also reports of fireworks being thrown at cars and buses.

At 9pm last night Lothian and Borders Fire and Rescue announced that they had dealt with over 200 calls in five hours – on a normal night they would receive approximately 80. A spokesperson confirmed the call-outs mainly involved unsafe bonfires. Police also confirmed they were receiving calls about youths using fireworks irresponsibly.

Firefighters used social networking sites to urge parents to be aware of their children’s movements over the evening, tweeting: “Kids out tonight? Do you know where?”.

Many people sent messages of support as news of the Ferry Road attack emerged, with one woman saying: “Disgusting! My other half is a fireman and he had a rocket thrown at him last year!”

Mark Brown added: “I despair. This moronic behaviour has to be stamped out.”

Attacks on firefighters have rocketed recently, with a report in August citing a drier November last year as one possible reason why such incidents had risen by a quarter in the space of twelve months. Lothian and Borders was the only area in Scotland to see an increase in attacks on fire crews.

Holyrood Park was again closed to traffic between 6pm and midnight last night to deter unofficial bonfires.

Meanwhile, thousands flocked to official Bonfire Night celebrations taking place at locations throughout the city.

The main event was held at Meadowbank Stadium, where a crowd of 5000 braved temperatures of 3C to watch an extended 25-minute Disney-themed pyrotechnic show, with beloved songs such as “The Bare Necessities” from The Jungle Book and Aladdin’s “A Whole New World”, timed to coincide with the spectacular explosions.

Starting the show off were four-year-olds Maya McRobbie and Isabel Wallis. Both girls have diplegic cerebral palsy, in which the hamstrings, calves and adductors are tight. Isabel recently went to St Louis, Missouri, to undergo a selective dorsal rhizotomy, which removes the high muscle tone. Maya’s family are currently halfway through raising the £60,000 needed to send her for the same operation. Isabel’s dad Rory Wallis said: “We had a great time. I’ve never sat so close to fireworks and I think Isabel got a bit of a fright when they first started, but she absolutely loved it, everyone did.”

Maya’s mum Carol added: “It was great to be part of the show and the girls got to speak about the fundraising we are doing.”

Edinburgh Leisure Director of Operations Graeme Gardiner said: “Everyone involved in organising it has pulled out all the stops to ensure it’s been another fantastic evening for all those who attended.”

East Lothian Yacht Club also held a 15-minute display which they said was one of their best attended yet. Organiser Sue Simpson said: “It was a wonderful, nice clear evening with possibly the biggest turn-out we’ve had – between four and five hundred people.”

 

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