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No one injured as state fireworks safety demo comes to quick end after explosive mishap

By Doug Alden
New Hampshire Union Leader

July 02. 2013 4:16PM

A watermelon is blown to bits by reloadable mortar during a consumer fireworks safety demonstration by the state Fire Marshal's Office in Concord on Tuesday. The demonstration was called off following this explosion which sent the mortar towards spectators and under a table full of fireworks. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

CONCORD - State fire officials demonstrating the dangers of fireworks legal in the state of New Hampshire had an unexpected surprise Tuesday when rain caused one of the explosives to malfunction.

The incident happened when State Fire Marshal William Degnan was showing members of the media the power of reloadable shells, which are designed to shoot a canister into the air that explodes into a shower of light.

Watermelons about the size of a volleyball were placed on top of fireworks about 75 feet away from where reporters stood with Degnan and other fire officials who were part of the safety news conference. The first demonstration went as expected, blowing the watermelon to bits, but the second went awry.

The propulsive blast of the shell destroyed the second watermelon as expected, but the decorative burst took an unexpected turn when several fireballs shot toward the onlookers. One glowing pink ember went almost straight to where Degnan stood behind a table covered with unused fireworks, many of them banned because they are considered too dangerous for the public to use.

Fire Marshal Investigator Chris Wyman ended the demonstration right then.

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