As thick smoke filled the air Friday at Cal Expo, the Raging Waters water park was ordered to evacuate. Many visitors reported that the main gate was locked, causing a crowd to bottleneck at a side gate.
“The smoke was pretty thick, you know it was pretty brown, then it started getting pretty black,” Raging Waters visitor George Gonzalez said.
Everyone was ordered out of the pool to leave the park, which was near a large grass fire in the Bushy Lake area nearby.
The large Fourth of July crowd said leaving was chaotic, and that everyone had to exit through single-person turnstiles.
“Everybody was trying to get through there, they would not open the gates to let everybody out, so everybody is panicking trying to get out and there’s like 50, 60 people trying to squeeze in one little spot to get out. And that was dangerous,” visitor Shannon Jones said.
Cal Expo officials say they were unaware of the evacuation issues.
Meanwhile, people showing up for Cal Expo’s annual fireworks show became frustrated while waiting and not knowing what was going on.
“There’s smoke in the air, it’s hard to breathe. It’d be nice to know if we should leave and take our kids out of the smoke,” Jacob Mosely said.
In the end, the fireworks show went on as planned.