Fireworks accident: Aerial starburst shell from 3″ mortar explodes on ground after hitting obstruction!

fireworks accident

I had a rather gnarly experience during Chinese New Year earlier this year – one of the locally produced 3 feet Roman Candle style mortars with 5 x 2” shells exploded barely a meter in front of me!

Yup, this is the precursor to the *badly delayed* annual Chap Goh Meh fireworks and firecrackers round-up of 2013 (post up tomorrow!). I had procrastinated due to the sheer amount of videos I had to upload so I decided to put it up during Hari Raya Aidilfitri – another occasion for fireworks, though not as large scale. /excuses

roman candle mortar

I bought two of the 3” long Roman Candle mortars that shoots out 2” shells and let off the more powerful version – a dual salute (report) with stars. To give you a perspective of how large the aerial shells are, here’s a 2” shell from a reloadable mortar:

2 inch shell

Anything re-loadable above 1.75” is classified 1.3G – requires a licence in the US and is a possession is a felony – they’re not meant for consumers but professionals. However, in Sibu, anything goes – even 3” and 5” display grade shells.

This particular disposable cardboard mortar is not the more intense 3” aerial shells that we launch from a metal mortar tube made by local blacksmiths.

3 inch fireworks shells
3″ fireworks aerial shells (requires mortar – these are display/professional fireworks but can be bought)

The 3” fireworks shells pictured above from my stash are definitely not consumer fireworks. I played with them last time but lost my mortar, one of this exploding 1 meter away would do me serious bodily harm.

nylon

I had stupidly tied the 5-shot Roman Candle disposable aerial shells to my automatic gate with shabby nylon. It’s supposed to be half buried (1 ½ feet) into the ground for safe display.

fireworks disaster

What I *didn’t* see was that the mortar was really close to being blocked by a solid metal piece welded to the gate.

How aerial shells work:

  1. Lift charge launches shell into the air
  2. Shell bursts open safely hundreds of feet in the air
  3. Watch and enjoy

shells exploding

What happened:

  1. First shell of the five inside the mortar tube launched
  2. It had such a powerful lift charge the mortar tube shifted
  3. Second shell still left the tube safely and burst in the air
  4. Third shell hit the metal slab and bounced back down and burst one meter away
  5. Videographer (me) shouted “Shit!” in surprise at the force of the blast
  6. Forth shell exploded right in front of me, showering me with flaming debris
  7. I shouted “Fuck!” in a bit of a panic as I saw the mortar canted at an angle towards the house
  8. Fifth and last shell went into the porch and exploded beside a car


Full video of the fireworks accident

The problem with the digicam is that it cuts off the last 3-4 seconds so you can’t really see #8 but the pressure wave was so strong that my dad, who was standing at the door, felt it.

These 2” aerial shells are supposed to explode harmlessly hundreds of feet in the air.

Instead they exploded *right in front of me*.

It wasn’t fun, people and property could very well have been seriously injured/damaged but it’s a good thing nothing bad happened.

hammer

I had to use a hammer to knock the 1” stainless steel gate that bent (!!!) at the force of the explosion impact though. -_-

Daytime fireworks colored smoke salute cakes!

color smoke salutes

Okay we have a fireworks post today but it’s not just any regular fireworks post. These are daytime fireworks e.g. fireworks you let off at daylight coz you *wouldn’t* be able to see them at night.

Whaaaaaaat? Really?

daytime fireworks cake

Yup!

color smoke salute effect

It’s actually called smoke salutes with a comet tail effect but these are airborne shells arranged in a barrage cake that contains bombettes filled with colored smoke that bursts in the air, creating a colorful cloud. This is the first time I’ve seen it available in a commercial format like this.

smoke salutes cake

I bought this cake of 49 shot colored smoke salutes for RM 200. I was specifically told to let it off in the morning. I found that it’s best to use these daylight fireworks when there’s no wind to make the smoke linger longer.

This colored smoke aerial cake produces a wonderful display of pink, green, blue, yellow, purple, smoke (black) and red. Pink is the most vivid color, followed by purple.

colored smoke salutes

I was surprised that the 1.2” mortars in the cake can produce such an impressive show. It’s quite long too so the shells shoots up quite high.

smoke salutes

Unfortunately, I had set my video mode to Shutter Priority so the sun completely washed out the smoke salute display. :x

daylight fireworks

It’s actually a very nice show and I’ll definitely be getting more of these next year. I’ll remember to film it better next time. The colored smoke lingers around in the air for a while and the vivid colors from the aerial smoke salutes makes for a novel daytime fireworks cake. :)

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