Serious questions follow deadly fireworks explosion in Roswell | KOB 4

Serious questions follow deadly fireworks explosion in Roswell

Brittany Costello
August 07, 2019 10:36 PM

ROSWELL, N.M. — The State Firefighters Union is sounding its own alarm that a tragedy in Roswell never should have happened.


The state is looking into the possibilities that some rules may have been broken. Vendors selling fireworks displays in New Mexico must have a permit through the Fire Marshal

Officials at the State Fire Marshal's Office told KOB 4 that Flying Phoenix Fireworks sold those fireworks to the City of Roswell, but it didn't have a current permit to do so. 

In early June, Roswell firefighters were preparing for the annual Fourth of July show – when something went wrong

An explosion injured a dozen firefighters, including Jeff Stroble, who recently died of his injuries. 

"Our firefighters are highly trained through our academy to answer 911 calls on a daily basis," said Robert Sanchez, president of the New Mexico Professional Firefighters Association. "Anywhere from structure fires, wildland fires, emergency medical calls – but we are not trained to operate fireworks."

Now there are a lot of serious questions about this incident,  that led us to our state Fire Marshal's office. Don Shainin, the New Mexico State Fire Marshal, said they've been looking into the incident, partially because that office handles fireworks permitting.

Shainin said they believe Flying Phoenix Interstate Display Fireworks Corporation sold those fireworks to the city of Roswell. But he said the company did not have a 2019 permit allowing them to do so.

Companies selling fireworks also have a duty to make sure it’s selling to a city who has someone certified to operate those fireworks.

So, was that the case in Roswell?

The public information officer for the city sent KOB 4 a statement:

"The City of Roswell has been formally notified of possible litigation related to the fireworks accident in early June. Under that circumstance, the city will withhold any comment or discussion regarding topics potentially connected with the accident and possible litigation." - Todd Wildermuth

"It's one thing for firefighters to get injured in the line of duty doing what we're trained to do," said Sanchez. "But when you're asked to do something that's careless, in my opinion, to prepare fireworks for a display, I just think its unacceptable."

Now the New Mexico Professional Fire Fighters Association is sending a message to crews around New Mexico, to refuse any request to handle fireworks.

"I want to make sure that this doesn't happen again," said Sanchez. "That's my number one concern."

KOB 4 reached out to the company for comment, but have not heard back.


Brittany Costello

Copyright 2019 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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