No injuries, minimal damage to Emerald Mountain after large firework exploded underground
February 12, 2019
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The blast from what almost was the world's largest firework caused a bit of damage to Emerald Mountain.
The firework was intended to be a dazzling close to Saturday's Winter Carnival Night Extravaganza, but the shell did not make it into the air, instead detonating in its mortar tube.
The mortar was buried beneath the ground, and Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby said the blast left debris at the site. Other than that, only the limbs of a nearby tree were damaged.
Infrastructure on Howelsen Hill did not see any damage, as far as officials are aware.
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No injuries have been reported in connection with the blast. Those involved with the launch, including Tim Borden, the man behind the firework, the Guinness World Records adjudicator and members of the media were a half-mile away from the launch site at the top of the Poma lift. Emerald Mountain was closed to the public during the event.
Parks and Recreation Marketing and Events Coordinator Emily Hines skied up to the site on Sunday to photograph the damage.
"Because the firework detonated inside the mortar tube, I think that it actually saved the area from a lot of destruction as opposed to the firework detonating a few feet outside of the tube," she wrote in an email that was shared with the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The fireworks show and the big firework created a good deal of micro-debris, but that's typical, Howelsen Ski and Rodeo Complex Manager Brad Setter said.
"Normally, when we have these big shells go off, they spread the similar debris amount over a radius," Setter said.
Because of the malfunction, this debris is more concentrated at the blast site than usual. Cleanup of this debris is difficult, as much of it is blasted into small pieces and soon covered by snow, Cosby explained. Several trash bags of debris were removed Sunday, including large pieces of the biodegradable paper used to wrap the explosives, Cosby said.
Setter said he'd be surprised if the blast impacted the stability of Howelsen Hill Ski Area.
"It’s several hundred yards away from Howelsen," he said. In addition, the mortar tube was installed in a slab of shale beneath the hill's surface.