Fireworks incident highlights need for responsibility


It is well known that fireworks can be dangerous in the wrong  hands, but one woman and her family recently had a traumatic experience that drove the message home.

Nerissa Gurr and her family had just finished watching the fireworks display in Brockville on July 1 when they stopped at the waterfront patio, near the Fat Les’s chip stand. That’s when they got a second unsolicited fireworks display that went badly wrong. “The fireworks were dropped or fell over and started shooting everywhere,” Nerissa wrote online. “One went into the eating area and caught a woman’s hair on fire, and fireworks also struck our three children.” The woman whose hair caught fire had to be taken away on a stretcher by paramedics.

What made the problem worse is that the family who lit the errant fireworks would not take responsibility for the dangerous incident. “The people

who caused the problem tried to walk away like nothing happened, and were confronted and followed by a crowd of people so they couldn’t get away,” Nerissa wrote. Her nine-year-old daughter was hit once in the stomach and once in the leg by rogue fireworks. Another firework hit the back of her infant’s stroller, and then exploded in her six-year-old son’s face, burning his hair off.

Nerissa reports that the family who lit the fireworks became combative when confronted about what happened. The man had to be restrained by security as he was getting angry, and the woman would not even look at or acknowledge Nerissa when confronted about the fact that her three children had been hit by fireworks.

Nerissa described the incident in more detail in correspondence with the Times. “We weren’t watching their fireworks,” she said. “We were going for a walk after the fireworks were over, just for something to do. We ended up in front of the restaurant patio in the middle after deciding it was too dark to walk down to the play structure, plus there were a lot of mosquitoes. When we were in front of the patio in the middle of the walkway was when the fireworks started shooting at us.”

Nerissa’s children have not stopped talking about the incident. They are still traumatized by what happened, and are saying that they never want to go to another fireworks display again. “Both of my older kids said their ears were fuzzy and ringing for a couple of days after the incident,” Nerissa said. “Our son was absolutely terrified, I’ve never heard him have such a blood curdling scream before. It was horrifying.” Her daughter has bruises from where the fireworks hit her. One of the fireworks would have went in her infant’s stroller if she hadn’t pushed it forward at the last second.

To Nerissa’s knowledge, no arrests were made, but the police did show up. From what the officer told her, those responsible for the incident will be charged, and will possibly be paying for the damages done to  their stroller. “The worst part was, they had kids with them and still couldn’t even recognize their actions and say sorry to people,” said Nerissa.

Fireworks have caused some controversy this year, with info graphics circulating online describing the distress they can cause to various animals and to people afflicted with PTSD. Nevertheless, fireworks displays are a long running Canada Day tradition, unlikely to come to an end anytime soon. The safest way to enjoy a fireworks display is to watch a show put on by professionals, such as a local fire department. However, anyone deciding to put on a fireworks display of their own should be careful to read the instructions on the fireworks they purchase, to ensure they are enjoyed safely. More fireworks safety tips can be found at


  1. In a neighbourhood close to Kemptville, I had fireworks landing on my house and property during a fire ban . I called Fire Dept and they said they could do nothing. In the same week (after the ban had lifted), I was burning branches in my back yard (with a fire permit) on a long weekend and the fire dept responded to a complaint while sending the 8 volunteers, a full size fire truck and chiefs truck. Yes one of those neighbours. They knocked on the door and asked for the permit (not asking or concerned with any fire because it was so small there was barely smoke). This was about bylaw enforcement not fighting fires and they got pissed at me for the call even though I had a permit. They even called dispatch in front of me to confirm the permit before even looking at fire.

    The only way I see curbing irresponsible behaviour with pyro techniques is to require a fire permit and acknowledging the consequences of harm to person and property. If it not tied to money, users won’t care because its not illegal (technically depending on circumstances). The authorities need to get their collective priorities sorted out. That can be enforced as a municipal bylaw if the pollical will is there.


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