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HomeLatest News'We're sorry': say Allambie Christmas concert organisers after fireworks mishap

‘We’re sorry’: say Allambie Christmas concert organisers after fireworks mishap

The event organisers and the pyrotechnics company behind last night’s Allambie Oval fireworks mishap have told Manly Observer how sorry and concerned they feel over the incident.

Just after 9pm last night, 11 December 2022, the annual Christmas concert at Allambie Heights Oval on the Northern Beaches went awry when fireworks were somehow redirected into the crowd, puncturing an 11 year old boy in the chest and causing burns to several other children. A girl also suffered a fracture in the fracas.

The boy is today undergoing surgery with the burns and plastics team at Westmead Children’s Hospital. His mother has thanked the community for their support and is understandably not taking calls right now.

Those present to the boy receiving first aid last night said he was incredibly brave but  “very much looking forward to pain relief”.

“He was so brave and and his parents were so calm and amazing,” one said.

Last night’s Allmabie Heights Christmas concert was a happy affair before the fireworks incident. Photo: Rachael Lee Jackson
Last night’s Allmabie Heights Christmas concert was a happy affair before the fireworks incident. Photo: Rachael Lee Jackson

The cause of the mishap is being broadly described as  a “technical issue” while Police and SafeWork NSW investigate the cause more thoroughly.

The fireworks display was conducted by Howards & Sons, an experienced pyrotechnics operator. Its director, Andrew Howard, told Manly Observer they are today onsite assisting SafeWork NSW with the investigation.

“We are concerned for the welfare of the persons injured. We are thinking of them and everyone who was at the event, including our onsite Pyrotechnicians.

“We are concerned for the welfare of the persons injured. We are thinking of them and everyone who was at the event, including our onsite Pyrotechnicians.

“Our priority at the moment is to conduct that investigation.

“We will ensure the outcomes of the investigation are made available to everyone involved in the event, the community, all government authorities and the media,” he said.

Last night’s emcee Andrew Fernon, who is also on the event organising committee, spoke with Manly Observer to convey his sadness over the incident.

“It was a lovely night until about 9.15pm when it all went pear-shaped,” he lamented.

The advertisement for last night’s Christmas concert at Allambie Heights Oval.

“Fireworks were going fine for a couple of minutes and then all of a sudden started going out in very different angles. And then obviously, one came into the crowd but one went over into the next door into the bush. And they just started going off at strange angles.

Mr Fernon said he had otherwise very positive feedback about the event, as they do every year, but the fireworks incident no doubt caused psychological harm.

Andrew Fernon. Image: Headshot from University Chambers website.

“We’re very sorry and regret what happened. We can’t say much about what actually did happen at this stage as we have to wait and see what [is uncovered] with investigations. “We’re very sorry for the children and we’re reaching out to the children and the families of the children who got injured,” he said.

“We are all in a bit of a shock at the moment so now’s not the right time to make decisions, but we’ll certainly be reviewing this moving forward, whether we have fireworks in the future,” he said.

“We are all in a bit of a shock at the moment so now’s not the right time to make decisions, but we’ll certainly be reviewing this moving forward, whether we have fireworks in the future,” he said.

Northern Beaches CEO Ray Brownlee confirmed it was not a Council-run event, but the organisers had done all necessary preparations on paper.

“The annual Christmas Carols event at Allambie Heights Oval is not a Council organised event and is sponsored by local businesses. The organisers followed all Council protocols regarding the booking of this event.”

“We wish the children injured in this incident a speedy recovery.”

Council confirmed that organisers who they have listed as Ray White Real Estate  [agent Ken Snell] on behalf of The Rotary Club of Brookvale completed all the required paperwork including a licence issued by SafeWork NSW to discharge fireworks. Use of fireworks at an event does not fall under Council jurisdiction.

Update 12:30pm.  Here is the full statement from Andrew Fernon on behalf of the Organising Committee for last night’s event:

Allambie Heights Christmas Carols and Fireworks – Sunday 11 December 2022

The Allambie Heights Christmas Carols has been a popular community event since 2008.  It is organised by a voluntary group of local community members as a free event for all.  It is a well loved Community Event, particular by families with young children, sharing the spirit of Christmas.

Fireworks have been a regular part of this event on many occasions over the last 10 years.  We have always outsourced the fireworks to professionals.  These events have occurred without incident until last evening.  Howard & Sons fireworks have successfully and safely delivered these fireworks on each of these previous occasions.   As on previous occasions, the local Rural Fire Brigade were present last night.

Last night’s tragic accident was obviously upsetting and stressful to all present, in particular to the young children and the families that witnessed the accident and who suffered the injuries.   We are very concerned about the children who were injured and have reached out to or are attempting to reach out to their families and to offer such assistance as we can.

We understand that the cause of the accident is subject to an ongoing Worksafe and Police investigation.  So we cannot comment on what went wrong on the night.  We will provide whatever assistance we can as part of that investigation.  We will obviously follow that investigation and its outcome closely.  What last night’s accident means for fireworks at future carols events remains to be determined.  The welfare of our community will be at the forefront of future decision making.

Allambie Heights is a very strong and supportive community and we are grateful for the support offered by our community, including our local school, following this terrible incident.  Our thoughts are with those who were injured and we wish them a speedy recovery.  We will continue to reach out to the families involved and provide whatever assistance we can.

ENDS

MO understands many families are dealing with children who are experiencing trauma from the fireworks incident.

We share this link below as one available resource:
https://raisingchildren.net.au/preschoolers/connecting-communicating/coping-with-trauma/trauma-first-response

 

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