The nearly 25,000 people looking forward to a spectacular fireworks display at Cal Expo were in for a big surprise when the show ended just eight minutes into it.
Cal Fire said a mortar failed, which ignited a small grass fire on the fairgrounds and sent a shell into a horse race viewing stand. The cause of what's being called a "catastrophic malfunction" is being linked to a manufacturing mistake. Steve Guarino with Cal Fire said through their investigation they've been able to rule out foul play and suspicious activity.
While Cal Expo said the public was never in any harm or danger, Shannon Roberts Jr. who was attending the event said he was still scared, "I thought it was going to hit me, but luckily it went over me. I thought it was going to hit a couple other people."
Investigators spent hours collecting evidence and now have the task of figuring out what to do with the 700 shells that are left over from the original 1,400 brought in for the event. Two big mortars were set off Sunday as Guarino said it was safer to set them off than detonate them. As for the other shells, Guarino expects to ship them back to the manufacturer.
Guarino said this situation has never happened at Cal Expo, "Fireworks are dangerous regardless of what the general public may or may not think and accidents happen."
Cal Expo managers will meet Monday to determine whether or not to issue refunds to those who paid for the event.