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Computer glitch leads to late discharge of Stafford fireworks | Local News

Residents of southern Stafford received an overnight dose of high-powered fireworks on Monday after a computer glitch failed to detonate the grand finale portion of the county’s annual fireworks show.

“I apologize for what happened last night about the end,” Falmouth District Supervisor Meg Bohmke said Tuesday during a Board of Supervisors meeting.

Bohmke said the final round of the show at St. Clair Brooks Park in Falmouth failed to fire as scheduled at about 9:50 p.m. When those rockets finally flew into the Falmouth skies nearly an hour and a half later, most residents came for the show has returned.

“It’s too late,” Bohmke said. “It’s really too late, and I know some people don’t sleep most nights and hope we can do better in the future.”

County spokesman Andrew Spence said the county paid Southern Exposure Pyrotechnics in Stafford $ 24,000 to hold an 18-minute fireworks display for county residents on July 4 scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m.

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Jake Walther, owner of Southern Exposure, said Wednesday he used the same computer software at Brooks Park on Monday that he used without incident just two days ago at Fawn Lake during Picnic on the Lawn community celebration. He said he tried to troubleshoot the Brooks Park problem after Monday’s show, then spent most of the day on Tuesday trying to figure out why the grand finale didn’t go as planned.

“I don’t know what happened,” Walther said.

Walther said when his team installed their equipment at Brooks Park, all systems were thoroughly inspected. He said the system was repeatedly checked before the show on Monday night, including an all-systems check at 9 p.m. and also at 9:20 p.m.

“The computer said everything was ready,” Walther said. “All the follow-up reviews say it’s perfect. I don’t have an explanation as to why it’s not working right now.”

When the misfire was confirmed Monday night, Walther and his team had to wait 15 minutes to allow the remaining lungs to cool in the area where the fireworks were stored before they could begin a physical investigation into the problem. . He said his team used and expanded mirrors on the poles to look into the deep pipes and they noticed that most of the rockets loaded into the finale rack were never fired, but he said that once the explosives are loaded, the only safe and secure way to dispose of them is to fire them into the open air.

“They have to be shot,” Walther said. “It creates a very dangerous situation for any of my technicians to try to reach and get one of these things once it’s all full and ready.”

As a result, Walther said about 250 rounds were set in manual fire and headed into the skies just after 11 a.m. Monday, shaking the peace — and the windows — of some nearby residents.

“That’s why we also have to endure the intensity until all the mortar fireworks are fired,” said Bohmke, whose district includes the park and houses surrounding it.

Walter said he was deeply saddened by the accident that disturbed county residents Monday night, but he said he was thankful no one was injured trying to remove or throw any misfired fireworks in the park.

“I apologize to the whole community,” Walther said.

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