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Pyrotechnics are dangerous substances that must always be treated with the utmost respect and with the proper training. Due to the hazardous nature of these materials, precautions must always be taken to ensure the safety of all individuals in the vicinity of pyrotechnics. Despite all precautions, accidents and errors occur from time to time, which may result in property damage, injury and in severe cases loss of life. These incidents may be the result of poorly manufactured product, unexpected or unforeseen events, or in many cases, the result of operator error.
Some of the more widely publicized incidents involving pyrotechnics in recent history include:
In August 2006, when TNA Wrestling held its annual Pay Per View Hard Justice, a fire ignited in the rafters where the pyrotechnics were held. Everybody was evacuated from the building. The fire lasted about 20 minutes and the show was continued.
On March 30, 2008, WWE had pyrotechnics go off for the ending of WrestleMania XXIV, but the pyrotechincs cable snapped and sparks flew down from the upper decks to the lower and middle decks. 45 fans were injured, but only 3 needed medical attention from a doctor.
At the 2010 Elimination Chamber Pay Per View, Professional Wrestler The Undertaker suffered burns to chest and neck as a result of a pyrotechnic accident. A mistake allowed a huge flame of fire to erupt directly under his feet. Remarkably, he competed in his match.
- In 2003, improper use of pyrotechnics caused a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub called The Station. The Station nightclub fire was started when the fireworks the band Great White were using accidentally ignited inflammable soundproofing foam. The pyrotechnics in question were not appropriate. The foam caused combustion to spread rapidly and the resulting fire led to 100 deaths, apparently because their quick escape was blocked by ineffective exit doors. While the type of foam used and the lack of a sprinkler system were important factors in the fire, the Great White fire could have been prevented had those involved paid attention to standard safety practices around the use of pyrotechnics.
- Metallica's James Hetfield suffered burns during a performance of "Fade to Black". He suffered from second and third degree burns. This concert is also infamous because it subsequently led to a riot occurring due to Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose walking off stage after complaining of a throat problem.
- Mötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee was hospitalized in 2005 when he was hit by sparks from a pyrotechnic stunt while he was swinging on a wire between drum sets suspended several feet above the stage.
- July 8, 2011 A follow spot operator's truss chair caught on fire at a Rihanna concert. It was caused by the shows pyrotechnics.
Margaret Hamilton was badly burned during a scene in which her character 'vanished' in a burst of flame and smoke, a delay in activating a trap-door catching her in the pyrotechnic device during the filming of The Wizard of Oz (1939 film). Her stuntwoman was also injured in a scene involving a smoking broomstick.
Manufacturing and retail
A powerful blast razed a fireworks factory 50 kilometers south of the Philippines capital Manila in January 2009, killing at least eight people and injuring more than 70 others.
Michael Jackson had suffered from injuries sustained when a pyrotechnic went wrong during filming for a Pepsi advertisement on January 27, 1984, when they went off too early and caused him to suffer from burns to his hair and scalp.
Another incident in Russia saw the roof catch fire of the Lame Horse nightclub in the Ural mountain city of Perm. Smoke inhalation and stampede caused 112 deaths.
An incident involving highly explosive fireworks burned the Television Cultural Center in Beijing, China in 2009 on the final day of Chinese New Year celebrations. One person died of smoke inhalation and 7 people were injured.