1 Killed in Explosion at Fireworks Plant

Times Staff Writer

One man was killed and two others suffered smoke inhalation Tuesday when rejected and defective pyrotechnic devices exploded at a dump outside the main plant of the Trojan Fireworks Co. in Rialto.

Shock waves from the blast were felt over a wide area, but firefighters said the location of the factory--in a rural area on the outskirts of town south of Interstate 15--prevented major damage.

Rialto police Lt. Brian Hebberd said the chief danger was to other fireworks plants nearby.


“We have several companies,” he said, “that produce fireworks for show spectaculars at places like Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm.”

2-Hour Battle

Within two hours, firefighters controlled the flames at the plant and extinguished several small brush fires touched off by flaming debris.

Rialto Fire Capt. Randy Ammons said an investigation of the cause of the explosion was under way. He said the items that exploded were products that had been stored outside the building because they had been found to be defective and were to be destroyed.

One Trojan employee, identified as Jose Diaz, 33, of San Bernardino, was pronounced dead at the scene. Ammons said Diaz had been in the vicinity of the defective fireworks dump when the explosion occurred.

Trojan employee Leo Autote and David Powell, who works for a trucking firm in the area, were treated for smoke inhalation. Autote was released, but Powell was hospitalized for observation.

Company officials said no immediate estimate of damage could be made.