“Impossible” and Horrific Roman Candle Accident

K.L. and B.J Kosanke

[Authors note: This article includes a number of notes with ancillary information. This information is not essential to the primary purpose of this article. Accordingly, it is suggested that the reader might wish to initially ignore the notes, and then subsequently, if additional information is desired, read any notes of interest.]

Introduction: In May of 2000 in Queensland Australia, a most horrific accident occurred involving large bore (2-in., 50-mm) Roman candles, which had generally and widely been thought to have been impossible. Because the set of conditions leading to this accident could occur again, and because requirements in the national fireworks standards (in both the US and Australia) should be modified somewhat to help mitigate the potential for future injuries, a series of articles derived from this accident and its investigation are being written.

To facilitate their publication, the length of these articles will be limited such that only a portion of the overall subject will be addressed in each. This first article begins with a brief discussion of common Roman candle malfunctions. The bulk of the article presents the basic facts of the accident. Subsequent articles will present: a discussion of the Roman candle characteristics that caused the powerful explosion; partial summaries of the results of the many and in-depth scientific investigations undertaken to elucidate and confirm the cause and course of this accident; recommendations of some changes to the safety procedures for the use of large bore Roman candles; and warnings regarding the manner of manufacture of large Roman candle stars.

Ref: Selected Pyrotechnic Publication of K.L. and B.J Kosanke, Part 6, (2001-2002), pp 95-99

© Journal of Pyrotechnics and CarnDu Ltd

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