Deadly explosion

1 killed, 1 injured in Pittsburg

| Marcus Clem reporter |

Two employees of Jake’s Fireworks suffered severe burns after an explosion outside the company’s old building in Pittsburg on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 12.
One of the employees, Kenny L. Clark, 28, died shortly after the medevac helicopter carrying him from the scene made an emergency landing at Freeman Hospital in Joplin, Mo.
Howard O. Harper, 42, was flown to Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mo., and remains in critical condition. No one else was injured.
The incident happened at 689 U.S. 69 Highway, which Jake’s Fireworks moved from last year to a new location at Pittsburg’s Northeast Industrial Park near the intersection of Atkinson and Rouse.
Steve Geier, Crawford County undersheriff, says employees were in the process of moving supplies, including containers of fireworks, when the explosion occurred.
Police secured the area and temporarily closed the surrounding streets to allow medevac helicopters to land.
The cause is under investigation but foul play is not suspected.
A Kansas state fire marshal and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are assisting with the investigation.
Responding to the incident were the Pittsburg Police, Pittsburg and Baker Township Fire departments, Crawford County EMS, Crawford County Sheriff’s Department and EagleMed air medical transport service.
Geier says a fire resulting from the explosion was quickly put out, but the smell of smoke was present throughout the area for the rest of the afternoon.
About two hours after the explosion, a woman arrived on the scene.
“I just want to see if he’s alive!” she said before proceeding to speak with first responders. She left the scene before she could be identified.
Jake’s Fireworks offered a statement to the media.
“Safety is our No. 1 priority and we are currently working with local fire and police on assessing the situation to learn specifically what occurred.
“All employees were accounted for and the area has been secured. Our main focus now is on our employees and families that were affected by the accident. We ask you to please keep the Jake’s Fireworks family in your thoughts and prayers.”
This incident comes almost nine years after a deadly explosion on Fireworks Spectacular property in Crestline. On Aug. 18, 2005, three were killed and two were injured as fireworks on a semi trailer and storage magazine accidentally detonated.
Jake’s Fireworks is owned by the Marietta family, which partially owned Fireworks Spectacular in 2005.
On June 19, 2012, a fire in storage units near the company’s original location near the Kansas Highway 126 and Lone Star Road intersection did not cause injuries.

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