State investigation into explosion results in fine for Maytown fireworks business

Entertainment Fireworks in south Thurston County racked up three violations, including a $1,200 fine, following a state Department of Labor & Industries investigation into an explosion that killed or injured three people.

The explosion June 18 took the life of William Hill, 75. Two other men, ages 25 and 52, also were injured in the blast, according to a story in The Olympian.

The investigation found one serious safety violation, which resulted in the $1,200 penalty, and two lesser violations that did not come with a fine.

Here’s what L&I officials had to say about the serious violation:

“At the time of the fatal accident, the employees were not following the safety requirements for the squibbing (inserting fuses) of shells, such as: Do not unnecessarily multiply the quantity of pyro materials present. If two crews are present, they should be in a straight line with each other facing the same direction. Each crew should be working out of one box of shells, and only that one box should be present, and a work table should be provided for each crew. The table shall be longer than it is wide, and the crew shall work on the long side all facing the same direction.”

One reason L&I wants work crews to sit on the same side of the table and face the same direction is that in the event of an emergency, the table, perhaps covered with live shells, can be tipped over and away from them while they evacuate in the opposite direction.

The two lesser violations involved not having monthly safety meetings, and training records were not maintained for employees who operate a forklift.

Entertainment Fireworks vice president of operations Ken Julian said Monday that the business accepts the conclusions of the investigation. They also don’t plan to appeal, he said.

“We’ll make the payment and go from there,” Julian said.

Corrective action on all three violations must take place by Jan. 13, according to the L&I investigation.

The investigation report was issued Dec. 11, but it was sent certified mail, which means the business didn’t receive it until Dec. 22, L&I spokeswoman Elaine Fischer said Monday. The deadline to appeal is Jan. 14, she said.

Entertainment Fireworks has been in business since February 1997, Julian said. It puts on 200 fireworks displays a year in five states, including Lakefair in Olympia and the Lacey Fireworks Spectacular off Yelm Highway, he said.

“We’ve had a good safety record,” he said, adding that there have been a few scrapes and bumps over the years, but nothing like what happened June 18.

“This was the first time that we’d had that kind of tragedy,” he said. “You don’t want to join this club.”