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Fireworks Company Blames Computer Glitch For Fourth Of July Bayfront Bust

Video

Big Bay Bust

Above: A Youtube video shows how fireworks on San Diego Bay all seemed to go off at once, to the surprise and disappointment of spectators.

Aired 7/5/12 on KPBS News.

Thousands of spectators who lined San Diego Bay for July Fourth fireworks saw one big burst then dark skies. Some answers emerged one day later.

— It all went off at once, just minutes before the actual show was due to start. Several barges full of fireworks exploded, lighting up the sky in downtown San Diego and setting off car alarms downtown.

Today the company hired to do the bayfront fireworks display blamed a computer programming error for the mishap.

The fireworks show, called the Big Bay Boom, has been unofficially renamed the Big Bay Bust. The fiery show was over in seconds, huge crowds were crestfallen and the contractor, Garden State Fireworks, had a lot of explaining to do.

Garden State co-owner August Santore spoke to KPBS media partner Channel 10 News. He said the mishap wasn't due to human error or firework technology, but to a corrupt computer file.

"Anyone who's ever had any kind of computer situation or otherwise, it's not perfect,” said Santore. “We’ve never had anything like this before and, God willing, we’ll never have anything like this again.”

But with last night’s debacle, the producer of the fireworks show is faced with making things right with angry spectators and financial sponsors. Sponsors have put $350,000 into buying the fireworks show, renting barges, promotion and permitting. The Port of San Diego paid $145,000.

Sandy Purdon is executive producer of the Big Bay Boom.

“We'll try and help make it right but we're not going to totally make it right,” said Purdon. “You can't replace the disappointment everybody has when they bring their family down on the Fourth of July to the waterfront to see something.”

Santore has offered to put on another show for free, either next year on the Fourth of July or sometime earlier. But Purdon said Garden State Fireworks can't begin to cover all the costs of a make-good fireworks display.

He said the shows producers have compensated Garden State but have not given them their “final check.” Purdon would not say how the show’s finances will ultimately be resolved.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Kangarobin'

Kangarobin | July 5, 2012 at 9:44 a.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

One man joked, "Well, we only have to wait another 364 days for the show to come again."
==============
Actually, it's 365 days till the next 4th of July - just in case some folks are counting and are disappointed again when they get there early and nothing happens on July 3, 2013. :)

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 5, 2012 at 11:03 a.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

What a total waste of money and worst of all the incredible environmental damage to the San Diego Bay and wildlife. Many of those misfired fireworks were clearly landing in directly the water and contaminating it with lead, copper, aluminum, magnesium, graphite, and sulfur, just to name a few contaminants.

Anyone know how much wasted taxpayer money went up in smoke with this boondoggle and why the Port uses an out-of-state company from....New Jersey?!?!

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Avatar for user 'cshamel'

cshamel | July 5, 2012 at 4:22 p.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

Let's be honest. We've all wondered what would happen if all of the fireworks went off at one. Now we know.

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Avatar for user 'mlcred'

mlcred | July 5, 2012 at 4:40 p.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

Tom Fudge:
"the mishap wasn't due to human error or firework technology, but to a corrupt computer file."
Only humans can be corrupt; the file was corrupted. Little things often mean alot :-)

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Avatar for user 'radiofree'

radiofree | July 5, 2012 at 4:42 p.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

Outsourcing often yields poor results but proponents of outsourcing always tout the money they save. If time is money, everyone saved plenty. Another outsourcing success.

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Avatar for user 'yubufidsap'

yubufidsap | July 5, 2012 at 8:13 p.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

Outsourcing often yields poor results but proponents of outsourcing always tout the money they save. If time is money, everyone saved plenty. Another outsourcing success.

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Avatar for user 'Dothscribble'

Dothscribble | July 6, 2012 at 5:28 a.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

Incredible acqoustics. The sound impressed more than the appearance.

His computer ate my lunch too!

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Avatar for user 'Mmikey'

Mmikey | July 6, 2012 at 8:52 a.m. ― 1 year, 9 months ago

what kind of incompetent fools invest in a system and not run a simulation ( test) before actually running the system?

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