San Diego fireworks malfunction in big, fast flash

Spectators watch from Coronado Island in San Diego on Wednesday as a malfunction causes the entire Fourth of July fireworks show go off all at once. The Coast Guard says the mishap occurred minutes before the scheduled opening of the Big Bay Boom show. More than 500,000 people witnessed the short-lived spectacle. No injuries were reported.

MOUNT PLEASANT — Sparks flew after the Patriots Point fireworks show as some patrons complained about not being able to see the festivities through the trees.

Fireworks were shot from a barge on the Cooper River instead of from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown.

“It was our first time being there. We heard it was spectacular,” said Bill Haber, 43, of Charleston.

The show turned out to be a big disappointment, Haber said.

“It was totally obstructed by the trees,” he said.

He estimated that as many as half of 5,000 patrons left the show because of the poor view.

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum staff was scheduled to meet today at 3 p.m. to review Wednesday’s fireworks show, said Ashley Smith, public information officer.

“Unfortunately there were a handful of people who were not happy and we understand their frustration. There is a grove of trees that may have obstructed the view,” Smith said.

The patrons were in a grassy area facing the Yorktown. They paid $10 to park and see the fireworks at Patriots Point. Regular parking fees are $5 per vehicle.

Other visitors paid more to see the show from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier.

“It’s a learning experience. It’s unfortunate that we had some guests that were disappointed,” she said.

A handful of people complained about the fireworks show on Facebook.

Patriots Point posted a response to them at the website.

“Please accept our apologies for your difficulty in viewing the fireworks from the landside locations at Patriots Point,” the state agency said.

Patriots Point said that for the first time it decided to shoot the fireworks from a barge in the Cooper River so it could use the flight deck for viewing, which provided new revenue.

“Several have stated that the barge placement was too far north of Patriots Point toward the bridge. We fully agree,” the statement said.

Regulations governing the channel, currents and tides were factors in the barge placement.

“Anytime you try new events you find areas that need adjustment. We will adjust the barge placement next year to correct the line of sight issue,” the agency said.