Fireworks Shot Off Early in Bay

Owner of fireworks company rules out human error or pyrotechnic malfunction

By Lauren Steussy, R. Stickney and Megan Tevrizian
|  Friday, Jul 6, 2012  |  Updated 8:48 AM PDT
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Sandy Purdon, the show producer for the Big Bay Boom, talks about why the fireworks went off all at once.

Sandy Purdon, the show producer for the Big Bay Boom, talks about why the fireworks went off all at once.

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Big Bay Boom Bums San Diegans

Richard Brown of Kansas City, Labeeine Taylor of San Diego and Nick Dambrosio of La Jolla spoke with NBC 7s Diana Guevara. See our compilation video from multiple angles here.

Raw Video of Fireworks Mishap

San Diego Bay fireworks mishap disappointed thousands on July 4, 2012.
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It appears a computer glitch caused the fireworks mishap that disappointed thousands of people camped out to watch the Big Bay Boom in San Diego Bay Wednesday night.

The New Jersey-based company contracted by the Port of San Diego to put together the annual fireworks show said it has offered to do a "makeup show" at no cost to the Big Bay Boom Committee. Watch: Owner Offers to "Make it Right" 

At about 8:55 p.m. Wednesday -- 5 minutes before the show was supposed to start -- a sudden burst of fireworks shot into the air in the bay. Throughout downtown San Diego, a large rumble could be felt just before 9 p.m. on Wednesday night.

Tens of thousands of fireworks were set off at the same time. The explosions lasted a few seconds.

Watch RAW video of the Big Bay Boom

At about 9:20 p.m., people waiting for the display were told to return home. The fireworks show was canceled, a radio announcement said.

Port District authorities said a "technical difficulty" resulted in all the fireworks going off within 15 seconds just minutes before the show was scheduled to begin.

"We sincerely apologize for the technical glitch that affected the #BigBayBoom. Event producers are currently investigating the cause," read a Tweet from the Port of San Diego.

The Port hires the company Garden State Fireworks to operate the fireworks show. Co-owner August Santore spoke with NBC 7 San Diego and said this was not a malfunction of the pyrotechnics nor was not human error.  Watch: Fireworks Company Owner Explains Misfire

The crew was up all night testing and retesting to find out what happened he said and they are "pretty confident" there was some sort of glitch in a computer program that was downloaded into all five systems coordinating the fireworks at all five stations.

The company has backup plans if the display doesn’t ignite but there is no backup plan if the fireworks ignite prematurely according to Santore. Watch Santore describe misfire in detail

The show took several months of planning for the company and "No one feels worse than us,” he said.

“We don’t look for anyone’s sympathy, we accept 100% responsibility,” Santore said.

"We were hired to perform and do a contract and there is no excuse," he said. "We will get to the bottom of it. It’s not something we take lightly."

Santore told NBC 7 San Diego that the Big Bay Boom Committee thanked their company for the generous offer but there are no concrete plans in place yet.

Port officials said the cost of the fireworks display is only about one-third of the cost of putting on a fireworks show. Staff, security, permits and other elements make up the rest.

No injuries were reported.

Garden State Fireworks has produced similar fireworks shows in San Diego in 2010 and 2011.

Here's a collection of responses from social media users who witnessed the botched display: 

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