SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The "BigBayBoom" pyrotechnics show over San Diego Bay went bust because of an apparent computer glitch, the Port of San Diego and fireworks company said Thursday.
The event was scheduled to be a 15-minute show featuring ordnance fired from five locations, four on San Diego Bay and one at the Imperial Beach Pier. Instead, all of the rockets went off at once, creating a series of gigantic explosions that lasted less than half a minute just before 9 p.m.
No one was killed in the accidental launches.
August Santore, owner of family-run Garden State Fireworks Inc. told reporters that the system was tested on Monday and several times before the start of Wednesday's show.
"It's just something that obviously was beyond our control," Santore said. "Anyone who has ever had any kind of computer situation, or otherwise -- it's not perfect -- so we've never had this situation before and God willing, we'll never have anything like this again."
Santore said when he saw what happened, "it pulled the life out of me." He said he will work with show producer Sandy Purdon and the main sponsor, the Port of San Diego, to make amends.
A statement to the media from the port expressed disappointment in the failure, which drew national attention via traditional and social media.
The annual July 4 display draws hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists to the downtown San Diego waterfront, many of whom arrive in the early afternoon to picnic and enjoy the surroundings. YouTube videos, which have recorded hundreds of thousands of views, show attendees cheering at the sight of massive fireballs before the ensuing silence.
According to the U.S. Coast Guard, it took nearly a half-hour to get the word out so people could go home.
The port district contributed $145,000 to this year's event, according to its statement. Visitors to the agency's Facebook page called the short-circuited show "unbelievable and unacceptable," and called for Garden State Fireworks to be sued.
The operator of a bait and tackle shop on Shelter Island wrote that "the 15 seconds that DID happen, was SUPER COOL," emphasizing in an all capital letters.
THIS IS AN UPDATE TO THE PREVIOUS STORY BELOW.
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The "BigBayBoom" fireworks show at the Port of San Diego went bust in a spectacular way Wednesday, as the rockets' red glare and bombs busting in air all went off at once.
A massive fusillade of bright rocketry lit up North Island and the downtown area just before 9 p.m.
YouTube video from the scene showed a gigantic 28-second blast, with rockets and bombs bursting in a random pattern. Then, nothing.
"It looked like a planet coming," one spectator told a TV station.
Coast Guard officials said it appeared that entire battery of explosives on three of the four launch barges was launched at the same time, possibly due to a "premature ignition."
"It looked like the finale ... you know, right at the end they shoot off everything." said Rich Dann, a civilian Coast Guard employee at the San Diego station.
Port officials issued a statement two hours after the debacle, and said signals between the fireworks command post and the four barges had been tested in the hours and minutes leading up to the 9 p.m. show.
"All these signals tested properly according to Garden State Fireworks, the company that provides the show," the statement said.
"The Garden State Fireworks team will be working throughout the night to determine what technical problem caused the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds," the port statement said. "We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties."
More than 500,000 people were expected to line the bay for the big blast. "It took 25 minutes to get the word out" that the entire fireworks show had blown at once, said the Coast Guard's Dann.
"On the water, there were people on the radio venting," he told City News Service. "A lot of people were unhappy, some had been here all day."
THIS IS AN UPDATE OF THE PREVIOUS STORY BELOW.
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - San Diego County's biggest fireworks show was over in a matter seconds, after a technical problem caused all the fireworks to go off at once.
Thousands of spectators had gathered at beaches, parks, and scenic lookouts to get a view of San Diego's 12th annual "Big Bay Boom" show. Some people even camped out for hours to see the fireworks, only to be left disappointed and in the dark.
Producers promised a 20 minute show, including fireworks from four barges strategically located around San Diego Bay, including Shelter Island, Harbor Island, the North Embarcadero and Embarcadero Marina Park South. The show was also supposed to have fireworks at the Imperial Beach Pier.
Instead, crowds were left wondering what happened after large explosions lit up the sky for about 30 seconds before fizzling.
Organizers said Wednesday night that they were still investigating the cause, only citing a "technical glitch" for bringing the big show to a premature halt.
Nobody was hurt when the fireworks mis-fired.