UPDATE | Belfair explosion torched fireworks for Bainbridge Island’s July 4th show

By RICHARD D. OXLEY Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer June 26, 2012 · 10:28 AM      

A quiet Belfair evening erupted into a ball of fire Sunday. But while firefighters were able to put out the flames, the impact of the blaze has stretched all the way to Bainbridge Island.

The ball of fire was from an exploding shipping container. Within it were large fireworks intended for Bainbridge Island’s Independence Day show, and all the fireworks were destroyed.

The fire was caused by employees who were shooting at targets at Belfair Auto Wrecking, where the fireworks container was stored. One round ignited the fireworks inside the container and caused an extremely large explosion that sprouted other fires in the area.

Bainbridge wasn’t alone in the loss. Fireworks for the Liberty Bay show in Pouslbo were also destroyed.

Despite the tragedy, the show will go on, said Scott Isenman of Bainbridge Fireworks.

Isenman didn’t initially think that the explosion would hit so close to home.

“I saw the report of the explosion on the early morning news and thought ‘Wow,'” Isenman said.

“A little while later it dawned on me, ‘Could it be?'”

Isenman contact Robert Nitz, Bainbridge’s fireworks artist who puts on the show each year, and Nitz confirmed his fears.

“That storage container was his entire stockpile, not only for our show but the Liberty Bay show,” Isenman said.

Luckily, Nitz’s fireworks supplier will be able to replace the fireworks that went up in flames.

“Being able to replace with almost identical pyrotechnics is important because the show is computer programmed and electronically synchronized to a music soundtrack,” Isenman said.

Nitz did have special-effect fireworks for this year that he imported from China, separate from his main supplier. The explosive device was water-based and can’t be replaced in time for the show.

Bainbridge Fireworks is still seeking donations for the annual show, and are approximately $6,000 short of their funding goal.

Islanders can contribute through their website or at donation cans at various island businesses.

Donations can also be made to Bainbridge Fireworks at American West Bank, located at 921 Hildebrand Lane.

Contact Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer Richard D. Oxley at roxley@bainbridgereview.com or (206) 842-6613.

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