Take cover! Festival fans are bombarded by fireworks debris
IT IS the traditional finale to Edinburgh's festival season, where thousands of rapt spectators in Princes Street Gardens watch the annual fireworks spectacular.
But safety concerns have been raised because six bystanders at this year's Fireworks Concert sought medical help after being hit in the eyes by falling embers, and large bits of debris showered other ticket-goers in the bandstand area.
Jim Campbell, 37, a mental health consultant and magician from Leith, said that debris fell in his eyes as he lay down near the fountain in Princes Street Gardens on Sunday night.
"My friend Susan got embers in her eyes too, and missed the end of the performance because of it," he said.
"I was worried she was missing the best part (of the show] and saw her head was down. I asked her why and she said it was because she had bits in her eye. I was hit on the leg as well."
Another bystander, who asked not to be named, told The Scotsman: "I was in the seating area at the bandstand and there were quite a lot of pieces of fireworks falling.
"We got hit by a couple of bits of cardboard debris."
A third spectator, watching the fireworks from a fifth-floor office on the corner of Castle Street and Princes Street, described how he saw people screaming and scattering as the embers fell. He also said one firework failed to launch and lodged in nearby trees.
Even Steve Cardownie, Edinburgh City Council's festivals champion, who was watching the fireworks from a seat in the Ross bandstand, admitted he got ash in his eyes. "I was very surprised to see some embers coming down.
"I have never seen anything like this before," he said. "I spotted about half a dozen bits floating down. It's regrettable that some people suffered minor injuries."
He added: "This is definitely a cause for concern and there will be a health and safety debriefing so we will look at what can be done for next year.
"I do not know yet if this means changing elements of the display. But I am sure there is a technical answer."
Mr Cardownie blamed weather conditions for the mishap."There was no change in fireworks that were used, all the old favourites were there.
"The weather has been the best I have experienced – it was a very still night, which meant the debris just floated down on people."
Rod Bain, producer of the Bank of Scotland fireworks concert, said: "As the event organisers, the safety of our audience, artists and staff is paramount.
"As with all firework displays, there was some light debris which fell within the gardens. The display posed minimal risk of debris incidents and the show was fired in full, with approval from public safety and emergency services.
"From the 14,500 Princes Street Garden ticket-holders, six reported ash-in-eye incidents to first-aiders. These came very early in the display and, other than a twisted ankle, there were no further injuries.
"If a serious problem had developed, the fireworks could have been stopped very quickly. We are pleased that the 2009 Bank of Scotland Fireworks Concert was enjoyed by an estimated 220,000 viewers across the city."
International fireworks artists Wilf Scott and Keith Webb from Pyrovision presented a 45-minute display involving more than 100,000 fireworks, four tonnes of explosives, and hundreds of firing sequences, including the classic waterfall cascading from Edinburgh Castle.
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Thursday 23 May 2013
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