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Multiple injuries reported after fireworks malfunction in Utah stadium

The crowd watches as a firefighter searches for an injured individual after an errant firework exploded among attendees during Stadium of Fire held at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah (Isaac Hale/AP)
The crowd watches as a firefighter searches for an injured individual after an errant firework exploded among attendees during Stadium of Fire held at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah (Isaac Hale/AP)

Malfunctioning fireworks veered into the stands at a crowded US football stadium and struck members of the audience during a Fourth of July celebration, sending up to six people to hospital, according to authorities and the event organiser.

The accident occurred during the opening ceremonies of the Stadium of Fire show, the flagship event at Provo’s annual Freedom Festival at LaVell Edwards Stadium, Brigham Young University in Utah.

Organisers halted the show for around 15 minutes while injured audience members received medical attention, said Freedom Festival spokesperson Emory Cook.

The crowd reacts after an errant firework exploded among attendees during Stadium of Fire held at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah
Around 45,000 people attended the sold-out show, with six people taken to hospital after being injured in the incident (Isaac Hale/AP)

Six people were taken to the hospital, Mr Cook said, but the number struck by fireworks and the severity of their injuries was not known.

The cause of the mishap — which involved fireworks shot off inside the stadium as several jets passed overhead — is under investigation by local authorities.

Videos posted on social media show individual fireworks veering off from the cluster sent into the sky over the field and landing among rows of spectators in the stands at the outdoor arena.

Around 45,000 people attended the sold-out show, Mr Cook said.

“Definitely a firework malfunctioned, but we’re still trying to figure out how that happened,” Mr Cook said.

Firefighters and paramedics were on scene when the show started and were able to reach the injured audience members within a minute, said Provo Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Jeanie Atherton.

Smoke appears in the stands during a July Fourth fireworks celebration at LaVell Edwards Stadium
Smoke appears in the stands during a July Fourth fireworks celebration at LaVell Edwards Stadium (Teresa Jack/AP)

She said her department transported only one person to the hospital but that other victims might have gone by personal vehicles.

The fireworks that malfunctioned inside the stadium were relatively small compared to the large pyrotechnics that are used during the show’s finale, Mr Cook said.

Those larger fireworks are kept outside the stadium, he added.

The event, which featured the Jonas Brothers, resumed under approval from the Provo fire marshal after the fireworks had been inspected following the accident, said BYU police department spokeswoman Karen Ellingsworth.

The fireworks that malfunctioned inside the stadium were relatively small compared to the large pyrotechnics that are used during the show’s finale, Cook said. Those larger fireworks are kept outside the stadium, he said.

Teresa Jack, of Provo, who was watching the show from the field, said she saw a rocket fly over her head and into the stadium’s east stands, exploding and sending up a big cloud of smoke like a bomb going off.

Fireworks explode in the sky during a July Fourth celebration at LaVell Edwards Stadium
Fireworks explode in the sky during a July 4 celebration at LaVell Edwards Stadium (Isaac Hale/AP)

People in the crowd there starting waving to let officials know they needed help and attendees organised quickly to let them know there had been injuries, yelling “stop the show” at the speaker on stage, she said.

People were asked to remain in their seats while injured people were told to report to a medical tent for treatment, said Ms Jack, a well organised response she credits for preventing a stampede.

Ms Jack, who went to the festival to see the Jonas Brothers, said she and her friends almost left during the finale partly because of the earlier malfunction but stayed because the display was “amazing”.

But she said she was just as impressed with the drones as the traditional fireworks in the show, which made her wonder if that would be the better way to celebrate July 4.

“Incidents like this give us the opportunity to reflect on our traditions,” she said.