07/06/09 216 W - + 7 - 15 Ocracoke Fireworks Explosion Ruled Accidental

As media reports such as this PilotOnline story and this WRAL story say, Saturday's fatal fireworks explosion on Ocracoke Island has been ruled accidental. The investigation is reportedly closed, and investigators have declined to reveal the cause. And readers everywhere are left with questions. Do trucks carrying fireworks just explode? Or are such explosions a factor of human interaction? e.g., during handling, such as loading and unloading? Are trucks carrying fireworks identified as such? With placards and all that? Or are unmarked box trucks the norm? And in particular for island residents, what's the ferry factor? Could this accident have occurred on the ferry? Should island residents become wary or even alarmed on the subject?

This blogger freely admits his ignorance with regard to the North Carolina ferry system and the transportation of dangerous goods therein. A quick check on the NCDOT ferry site doesn't find anything about commercial vehicles or cargo restrictions. Might be part of the ferry reservation system, which is presently out of service. Nor does a quick Google search find an answer. Perhaps our coastal readers can share their knowledge on this aspect of transportation safety. And we'll probably see these very questions asked in public, as news outlets continue covering the story. Watch the web.

I believe the DOT placarding and regulation will prevail and there are no restrictions, unless NC’s ferry have different added restrictions. I would not think so, otherwise how would the OBX folks receive other “dangerous goods” needed or everyday living.

Most display (or demonstration) fireworks are Class 1, Division 1.2 Explosives and are in “Table 1” of the DOT placarding requirements – requiring placarding in any amount. The smaller “fizzle and sizzle” common fireworks are Class 1, Division 1.4 (“Table 2”) and only require placarding at the 1001 lb. weight point. They are all stable in storage and transport unless a fire is introduced. The fireworks on this truck should have been Division 1.2. Whether it was placarded or not is questionable, but even still, the materials are stable in storage and transport.

Now for a really profound hypothesis… There must have been a fire prior to the explosion…
A.Rich - 07/06/09 - 11:55

Identification of these trucks is a big issue. Just ask anyone who has issued many fireworks permits and they’ll tell you that they’re typically transported in Ryder or Hertz-type trucks with very little or no placarding. You would be on your toes if it’s sitting in the middle of your local community park with racks around it on the 4th of July, but what about everyday transport moving down the road. Just emphasizes the point to be careful around box trucks with unknown cargo.
Chris - 07/07/09 - 10:01

Here’s how fireworks work, from the locally-founded web site HowStuffWorks, http://www.howstuffworks.com/fireworks.h..
Legeros - 07/08/09 - 06:54

Unknown cargo- anything that may be carried in any sort of motorized vehilce that has a truck, bed, or container. Can include motorcylces, regular passenger car, station wagon, SUV, van, box truck, bus, tractor trailer, etc.
DJ (Email) - 07/08/09 - 16:39

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