MENASHA — A fire on a barge where fireworks were being launched on the Fourth of July in Menasha caused the show to end eight minutes early.
Spectators said it started off great.
“The fireworks were the best ever! Just one after another,” Mary Jo Weidert told WLUK.
Everything was fine, until the abrupt ending!
“And then they stopped. We were like, ‘what’s going on?'” Weidert said.
Turns out, there was a fire on the barge stationed in the waters off Jefferson Park in Menasha, where Lake Winnebago empties into the Fox River.
Weidert and 15 guests had a front-row seat to the show.
“Just waited waited and people started leaving and I was like, ‘come on! It’s going to go right?'” Weidert said. “It was a shame, because they were so great.”
As the fireworks exploded overhead, fire officials said some sparks fell onto some of the hot debris on the barge.
Vernon Green with Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue watched the whole thing unfold. He said a fire broke out on the water barge that was holding the fireworks, which are controlled electronically.
Once the fire burned through some of the wires, fire officials said that cut off communication to the control panel, which in turn ended the entire show. The crew tried to make fixes and cut off a section of wires, but the whole system was shut down, and there was nothing the crew could do.
“Once the fire’s burning out there, there’s not a real safe way to get in and extinguish it,” Green told WLUK.
The planned 35-minute show ended eight minutes early, and the entire grand finale was wiped out.
Green said one of the fireworks crew members had minor burns on one of his hands, but luckily, there were no serious injuries — just some disappointed spectators.
“It is what it is. We just deal with it and move on, and just learn from it and next year hopefully come up with a way to prevent that from happening again,” Green said.
“We were bummed out, but then we ate some pie and we were OK,” Weidert said.