Two Jake's Fireworks employees were life-flighted to Missouri hospitals with severe burns after an explosion occurred at the company's old location Tuesday afternoon.
UPDATED: 12:47 a.m. with corrected number of those killed in 2005 incident.
Two Jake's Fireworks employees in Pittsburg were taken by medical helicopter to Missouri hospitals with severe burns after an explosion occurred at one of the company's properties Tuesday afternoon.
Crawford County Undersheriff Steve Geier said police received a 911 call at 2:35 p.m. reporting the explosion. First responders went to the location at the intersection of 20th Street and the U.S. 69 bypass. The surrounding streets were temporarily closed to allow two EagleMed helicopters to land.
Geier said the Jake’s Fireworks employees were in the process of moving supplies, including containers with fireworks inside, when the explosion occurred. No one else was hurt and no damage to any buildings happened as the explosion was outside, Geier said.
The cause of the explosion is not yet known, Geier said, but foul play is not suspected.
The employees were working on moving material to the Jake’s Fireworks new location at the Pittsburg Industrial Park. The company set up there last year in the old Superior Industries building.
“An extended investigation will take place probably for the rest of the day into tomorrow,” said Mike Simons, Pittsburg fire chief.
Simons and Geier said that a Kansas State Fire Marshal was on the scene Tuesday afternoon and that the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will have agents on scene Wednesday.
“There is no reason for concern of danger or fire at this time,” Geier said.
Geier said the fire was quickly put out, but the smell of smoke emanated through the area for the rest of the afternoon.
About two hours after the explosion, a woman arrived on the scene.
“I just want to see if he’s alive!” she said before proceeding to speak with first responders. She left the scene before she could be identified.
Jake’s Fireworks offered a short statement.
“I feel that it would be inappropriate for me to comment further, not that I have any else to add other than to ask for prayers for those who have been affected,” said Jason Marietta, a representative for the company. “Between Sheriff [Dan] Peak and Undersheriff Geier, I feel they are on top of the situation and doing an admirable job, along with all of the other public safety personnel.”
This incident comes almost nine years after a deadly explosion on Fireworks Spectacular property in Crestline. On Aug. 18, 2005, three were killed and two were injured as fireworks on a semi trailer and storage magazine accidentally detonated.
At the time of that incident, Fireworks Spectacular, a Class B commercial-grade fireworks company, was partially owned by the Marietta family. The Marietta family owns Jake's Fireworks, a Class C consumer fireworks company.
On June 19, 2012, a fire in storage units near the company's original location near the Kansas Highway 126 and Lone Star Road intersection did not cause injuries.