Safety concerns over hot firework embers being blown towards spectators caused an interruption to Burnham-On-Sea seafront fireworks display on Sunday night (November 5th).
Thousands of people lined The Esplanade to watch the sparkling display as part of the town’s carnival festivities. Watch video highlights here.
However, there were concerns that the strong north-westerly winds might blow firework debris towards the crowds, leading to a 20-minute delay to the start of the display.
People were moved out of the B&M car park and from the front of the Bay View Cafe on The South Esplanade to safer positions.
The display finally started at 6.49pm – but then it abruptly stopped at 6.57pm, mid-way through the event, when hot embers were seen being being blown towards the edge of the exclusion area, as pictured above.
Messages over the sound system informed the public near the jetty that the crowds would have to be moved back further to maintain safety.
But spectators said they were unable to hear the messages and left or started leaving.
The vast majority waited, as pictured above, and they were not disappointed – the display re-started at 7.05pm and finished with a glittering finale, accompanied by high booms over the sea, at 7.15pm.
Burnham-On-Sea Mayor Cllr Bill Hancock told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “We thank everyone for their patience during a challenging evening because of the gusts of winds.”
“A quantity of debris was blown towards the edge of the exclusion zone, so Skyburst, the company that runs the display for us, made the right decision to halt the display for the public’s safety while the marshalls moved people back.”
He added: “The public’s safety is of paramount importance to us and the short delay meant everyone was kept safe. We thank Skyburst and the marshalls for handling the situation so professionally.”
Matthew Tosh, senior supervisor for Skybust, who was in charge of the display, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “The wind was our ‘number one enemy’ and we had to move spectators out of the way for their own safety.”
“I decided to pause the show when I saw the hot embers drifting towards the crowds near the Bay View Cafe. When the people were moved back we resumed and finished the display.”
“Overall, I think went well. I think we made the right decision to go ahead and not cancel the whole event earlier in the day. It was the right decision for the thousands of people who came along and for Burnham as a town.”
Burnham-On-Sea.com spoke to several spectators to get their reaction on how the display had gone.
Shirley Routley said: “For a free show we thought it was tremendous. The delays didn’t have any impact on us at all and we loved the evening.”
Lorraine Malinson added: “It was a great event – the delays didn’t bother us and they did the right in thing in pausing the show if there were safety concerns.”
Matt Riley added: “We were down near The Pavilion and couldn’t hear any of the announcements so people were confused when the display stopped and many around us left, thinking it had finished. The council needs to sort out the sound system next year. That said, the fireworks were great.”
The edge of the safety exclusion zone, marked here with yellow tape, was outside the B&M store in Old Station Approach. The exclusion area also included the B&M car park and the area in front of the Bay View Cafe on the North Esplanade.
An estimated crowd of over 10,000 people watched the display, which was fired from a scaffolding platform on the jetty. Over 2,000 sparkling shots were fired into the air above the waves, accompanied by a programme of modern music.
The event, held on the night before Monday’s Burnham-On-Sea Carnival, is overseen by Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge Town Council and supported by local businesses.
This year’s event sponsors included Home Farm Holiday Park, Positive Wealth Creation, Highbridge Caravans, PJ Harris Funeral Services, Holley and Steer, Round Tower Guest House and Newcombe Caravan Park.
Spectators were encouraged to give donations to the Rotary Club charity collectors.
Guide to 2017 Burnham-On-Sea Carnival