Changes made to avoid last year's Cherry Grove fireworks disaster

This year, a company is learning from its mistakes and making some changes after last year's display in Cherry Grove went terribly wrong.

The lead operator was sent to the hospital after a firework malfunctioned.

"We had the tube malfunction about two minutes in to it last year. It's unfortunate but with this type of business these accidents do happen. Fortunately, it wasn't any worse than it was," said Steve Gann, operations manager of the Cherry Grove Pier.

The explosion blew a two foot by three foot hole into the pier and damaged about four feet of the railing. The crew of the firework company, Zambelli, worked to prevent another disaster this year. They added some new safety features to this year's show.

"We have added a little bit more protection to the pier with some more materials underneath our guns and more protection for us," said Terry Bowen, lead shooter for Zambelli Fireworks.

Other than a few minor changes, the operators say not much more can be done to avoid an accident similar to last years.

"It's something that you cant foresee at all. Things happen and there's no way of preventing them," Bowen said. "So we can have all the safety procedures you want but if something decides it doesn't want to work right it could be minor, or it could be catastrophic like it was last year."

The pyrotechnicians say it is a difficult and dangerous job that they have. They work extremely close with explosives that can easily injure them. Bowen says at some times it is very nerve racking.

But the crowds cheers and whistles make it worth while at the end of every show.

"We don't get to see it but we get to feel them when they go off and hear them. Just the crowd at the end when you hear that applause and yells and everything else, thats what pushes us to do it," said Bowen.

Zambelli has operated the fireworks show in Cherry Grove for the last three years.