More Than 50 Fireworks Shells Explode A Minute

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ALTON, IL (KTVI)-- America`s celebration of freedom and liberty always comes early in Alton, Illinois.  Every year city officials hold the fireworks show on July 3rd, that way citizens can enjoy the Alton show and Fair St. Louis the next day.

It was a challenge for people trying to get to Alton Wednesday night.  Traffic was backed up because of a wreck on the bridge which spans the Mississippi.  It took motorists 45 minutes to travel 3 or 4 miles.

Some folks watched the show from the Missouri side of the river.  Twenty thousand people were expected to watch,  1,720 shells exploded in the air during the 30 minute performance.

In 1998, three people were killed during the show when an explosion occurred on the fireworks barge.   Fire Chief Bernie Sebold says numerous safety improvements have been made.  Fireworks workers have to be trained and licensed by the state of Illinois and they are under the watchful eye of fire officials during the set up.

Chief Sebold said, "While they`re setting up we are going over and inspecting the racks where they are discharged from to make sure they are stable in the ground to make sure they are the proper distance away from the actual charges to the ignition board."

Alton Mayor Brant Walker said the show would not happen without the generous support of local businesses.  Walker said, "This is a great example of how public and private sector can work together the actual fireworks have all been donated by private business in the community."