Tragedy hits the small Outer Bank’s island of Ocracoke when a truckload of fireworks exploded Saturday morning on a dock, killing one worker and critically injuring four others preparing for an Independence Day celebration.
So big was the explosion that it shook homes and businesses and was heard across a village on the southern end of Ocracoke Island, which is the only inhabited part of the 15-mile spit of land.
Ocracoke Island is only accessible by boat or plane. Three medical helicopters had to take the injured workers to hospitals. One of the workers was taken to a burn center in Chapel Hill, about 180 miles away, though it was unclear where the other workers were taken.
Fortunately there were several doctors, including a medical examiner, and a nurse that were visiting the island. They were able to help paramedics and staff from the local health clinic in treating the workers. The names of the workers have not been released until all family have been notified. Also, there is no known information on the company involved with the fireworks or what may have caused the blast.
There are agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives as well as other federal officials coming to the island to investigate. Dock master Robert Raborn noticed the workers unloading the truck from the Anchorage Marina about 200 yards away. He heard the explosion, which he described as one of the loudest things he has ever heard, and then turned to see what happened.
The explosion was described by one witness as “40 minutes worth of fireworks going off in four seconds”. The explosion stopped ferries to the island for a few hours, but service was restored around noon Saturday. By the afternoon, things were returning back to normal. This incident definitely had some locals reflecting on the fact that their beloved island is far removed from major medical services. Although there is a medical center, immediate attention from a major hospital is hours away.
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