Five people were injured in a fireworks explosion Wednesday night at Lake Waccamaw, according to Fire Chief Jerry Gore, who said three people were transported to Columbus Regional Hospital.
Two others refused hospital treatment.
The incident reportedly took place around 9:30 p.m. during the McNeill family's annual Fourth of July fireworks display. Gore said it happened in the 600 block of Canal Cove Road.
According to Gore, several flares fell from the sky, and one of the flares hit a box of fireworks on the pier's second level, setting off the explosion. Gore said several off-duty firefighters helped put out the fire on the pier. He said the pier is intact, and when he arrived at the scene he inspected the pier to make sure it was safe.
Witnesses said one individual jumped into the lake, and that they believed all five had burns of varying degrees. One had a possible broken arm.
The McNeill family have hosted a Fourth of July all-day event for about 60 years, including a lunch and a display of posters of the signers of the Declaration of Independence hung on their pier.
Neighbors said nothing like this has ever happened.
“We always love the McNeill’s fireworks because they’ve done them forever and they’re just great citizens around here,” neighbor Mikie Wall said.
“We go out and watch it from our pier and, as usual, it was a great show then all of a sudden there was a huge explosion or it looked like a big thing of fireworks going off, but I said that looks too low they weren’t up in the air they were just down low because they do it on their pier on the top of their double decker pier,” Wall said.
A witness said none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening and that all of the victims were up and walking.
The McNeill family did not want to talk on camera about the incident, but did issue a statement:
“There was a mishap with fireworks during the family’s annual Fourth of July display. Fortunately, we are extremely blessed that there were no serious injuries and all of the participants are fine.
"We would like to thank all of the first responders from Lake Waccamaw, Whiteville and Buckhead fire and rescue and EMT units, many of whom were watching the display, for their immediate response and outstanding care.”
According to Gore, an ember fell into a spot people setting off the fireworks thought was secure.
“This is not normal. This doesn’t normally happen,” Gore said.
A video of the explosion was posted on YouTube early Thursday morning
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