Great history of a 1983 illegal firework factory explosion

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just to put something in perspective, the video makes a brief reference to the income of the fireworks.

in 2020 dollars, that represents $2.7 million a year.


Picture 11



In the early 1970s, Illinois had a string of fireworks-related catastrophes, to the point of the General Assembly taking notice. The report prepared for them boggles the mind. Nothing like the State Fire Marshal not even knowing that one of the factories that blew up had been operating for over a decade!

I personally saw the aftermath of one of the explosions. Once the road was reopened, my dad piled us in the car and we joined the inevitable lookie-loos. Debris was absolutely plastered against a chain-link fence.


If he knew about the illegal dangerous fireworks factory wouldn’t he have shut it down? It would be more surprising if he knew all about it and didn’t do anything.

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Wikipedia’s summary on the Tultepec page is something else.

2016 fireworks explosion: On 20 December 2016, at least 36 people were killed and 59 were injured when fireworks exploded at the San Pablito Market. Previous explosions in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2012 had killed a total of 20 people.


On the other hand, not knowing something as high-profile as a fireworks factory is out there in the first place means there was a massive failure in the system. Of course, it was unincorporated-at-the-time Cook County, so maybe the right palms were greased to issue building permits in the first place, or the owner had a sudden, undocumented “change of plans.”

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It’s rural Illinois in the 60s and 70s. There wasn’t a lot of government oversight period. These kind of incidents are why we have oversight now.


I remember having some M-500 firecrackers back then. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were made in a similar factory to this one. I never thought about the people risking their lives for little pay to make things that go boom. I sure don’t remember hearing about this explosion at the time.


You need the extra income when the core business doesn’t have a catchy jingle.


the Webb family is one of the founding families of that area of Tennessee between the Hiawassee and Ocoee rivers and their confluence.
Dan Lee’s kinfolk, Oliver and Harold are (were?) local celebrities due to their entrepreneurship, founding the Webb Brother’s Texaco and then spinning off a successful innertube rental to float the rivers. huge truck innertubes bearing the Webb name in red paint dot the Hiawassee on any warm day, or at least did when I was a kid. the men themselves also had a shack next to one of the bridges where they hung out and sold boiled peanuts, decades-long beards and overalls their trademarks. they even sold handmade dolls of their likenesses.
a shame about the explosion, but in my experience, that area of the country is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

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As I’ve mentioned here before, I spent New Years in Amsterdam this year, place really did feel like a war zone - intense. Around midnight the barrage was continuous for nearly 90 minutes, all over the city:

#10 How to survive Dutch Fireworks

Seems that was the last year it will be allowed there, in future only proper professional fireworks displays allowed.

Walking through a quiet back street, a man and two women cycled past, all well dressed and about middle aged. They paused on a canal bridge ahead of me, threw down one of the loudest firecrackers I’d ever heard and cycled off cackling manically - I do love the Dutch…


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