One dead, three firefighters injured in fireworks explosion

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A brush fire in North Carolina enveloped a storage container holding commercial-grade fireworks, causing an explosion that killed one person and left three firefighters injured, officials said Saturday.

The La Grange Volunteer Fire Department, North Lenoir Fire & Rescue and the North Carolina Forest Service responded Friday to reports that the fire was creeping toward the building and found the property owner, Randy Herring, trying to stop the blaze himself, Lenoir County Emergency Services said in a statement.

But the firefighters were unable to put out the fire in time and instead the flames reached the fireworks, causing the explosion.

Herring was rushed to the hospital and died from his injuries. Three injured firefighters were taken to ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville; two have since been released and one was transported to the Jaycee Burn Center in Chapel Hill for further treatment.

The Lenoir County Fire Marshal’s Office is coordinating the investigation with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal, the N.C. Forest Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, officials said Saturday.

Investigators told WRAL that the fireworks were part of a licensed operation, but it’s unclear if they were stored properly.

Fire officials worked overnight Friday into Saturday to put out the fire and the hot spots, including unexploded fireworks that had scattered in the area.

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