CHESTER - People living in the vicinity of U.S. Route 30 between Rodgers Road and Veterans Boulevard in Chester were treated to a fantastic fireworks display late Saturday night, when flames swept through a display tent filled with fireworks in the parking lot of Shorty's Place.
Units from the Lawrenceville Volunteer Fire Department were notified at 10:26 p.m. and arrived at the scene eight minutes later, according to Assistant Fire Chief Jeremy Ober, with firefighters bringing the blaze under control about an hour later. Police cruisers had arrived at the scene beforehand and blocked off the road leading to Shorty's in both directions. No injuries were reported.
Ober said the tent had been erected early Saturday morning and, according to the owner, was stocked with an estimated $50,000 worth of fireworks to be sold in anticipation of the upcoming July 4 holiday.
"He told me it hadn't even been 24 hours since they had been operational," Ober said.
Rick Boyer, who lives behind Shorty's on Braddock Lane, said he began hearing the sound of fireworks at around 10 p.m., and assumed that someone was setting them off down Route 30. After emerging from his home, he saw rockets shooting in random directions and realized something was wrong.
"They came buzzing by, through these trees," he said, pointing at his yard. "Next thing I know, they're shooting across the road with cars coming up through there."
With the rockets getting too close, Boyer said he and his girlfriend watched the remainder of the incident from inside the safety of his trailer.
"It really lit up down there," he said.
According to Ober, there was a man working in the tent looking after the fireworks, but that the incident had left him in a state of shock, though otherwise unhurt.
"He really didn't have a lot he could say at that time," Ober stated.
He said Shorty's employees had attempted to contain the blaze with fire extinguishers, but made no progress.
As of Sunday night, there was no indication of a cause. Ober said State Fire Marshal Larry Flowers would be on hand Monday morning to assist the department with its investigation.
(Sberna can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)