Tulsa Fireworks Show Fizzles

Sunday, July 5th 2009, 8:33 am
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The Freedom Fest fireworks fizzled out after just a few minutes Saturday night.

"We sat down, got our space ready with our chairs, etc. And it went for 10 minutes, and then it was off," said spectator Sam Arndt.

The show started early because of the threat of severe weather. And from the get-go, there were problems.

"There's normally some sort of cadence, and it looked like these were going up a bit differently, at odd times," Arndt said.

On the 21st St. Bridge, the risk of a major explosion intensified.

"What happened was a mortar that went off - exploded either really close to its container, or inside its container, and caused a fire on the trailer, burning over into another trailer nearby," said Captain Michael Baker of the Tulsa Fire Department.

The blaze melted the electronics needed to control the fireworks show. No one was injured as a result of the explosion.

An entire trailer devoted to the grand finale, filled with 1,000 shells, had to be dismantled.

"Disappointed. We had some friends come from Denver to see the show with us, and so we're a little embarrassed at the same time," said Stella Wilson.

The show cost $45,000 - every penny of it raised from donations. RiverParks paid 10% up front.

"We believe that only about 20% of the show actually went off," said Tonja Pitzer of RiverParks Authority. " We don't pay for the fireworks show up front, so we'll work with them on it."

Pitzer says they don't expect to pay for unused shells. And even though many are still frustrated, they're putting it in perspective.

"We've got our freedom, we've got a lot to be thankful for. So we need to just say it's just a bad year and next year will be better," Janet Arndt said.

RiverParks used a new company for this year's show, A&M Pyrotechnics out of Missouri.  A spokesman says they're also disappointed, and will work out a fair settlement.