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At least 14 hurt in Simi Valley fireworks explosion

A fireworks explosion injured at least 14 people Thursday evening during a Fourth of July celebration in Simi Valley, authorities reported.

The accidental detonation occurred during a professional fireworks display attended by thousands of people at the Rancho Santa Susana Community Park on East Los Angeles Avenue.

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Amid the chaos, Ventura County firefighters set up a triage center in the park, where they treated adults and children, many of them hit by flying debris. Some people were taken by ambulance to area hospitals.

"There was a big boom, everybody started running down the street, people were screaming," said Justice Allen, 17, of Simi Valley. "Everybody was just terrified. People hid in bushes."

Allen said she had just arrived at the park after getting off work when fireworks started flying over the fences and sparks passed by her and her friend.

Another witness, Annisa Wynn, told KTLA-TV Channel 5 that the explosion happened about two minutes into the show. The fireworks suddenly began shooting sideways along the ground into the crowd instead of up in the air, she said.

"The fireworks were so close, you could see them on the ground," Wynn said. "It never happens this way. People were screaming."

Simi Valley Police Cmdr. John Parks said the Fourth of July event was heavily staffed with police, park rangers and firefighters who were able to treat the injured almost immediately after the explosion.

Parks also said the public cooperated with authorities and quickly evacuated the park after the blast.

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