Company Appeals Ocracoke Explosion Fines

A fireworks company that lost four workers last summer on Ocracoke Island is appealing a $44,800 state fine.

The State Labor Department says it and Melrose South Pyrotechnics could not reach an informal settlement agreement on the fines and citations issued in December. Now the North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission will schedule a hearing on the appeal.

Four people were killed in the July 4th explosion, many who attended the same Goldsboro church. Mark Hill, Terry Holland, Charles Kirkland Junior, and Lisa Simmons died in the blast. Holland was the maintenance director for the Lords Table Church, Kirkland was the son of the church's care pastor and Simmons was identified as a parishioner.
The only survivor of the explosion, was Marquez Holland, nephew of Terry Holland.

The state says there were 680 pounds of fireworks in a rental truck that blew up. The labor department says workers were in the back of the truck assembling electronic matches into fuses when the accident happened.

One of the violations says employees were permitted to "introduce possible ignition sources" such as a lighter within 50 feet of where the fireworks were located. The state says a pack of cigarettes and a butane lighter were found two feet from the rear corner of the rental truck containing the fireworks.

Another violation says a motorcycle type battery was found on the rear floor of the truck, another possible source of ignition. A third possible source of ignition was spark producing tools that employees were allowed to use.
The state also claims the company did not provide personal protective equipment to minimize the generation of static electricity to its employees.


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