The incident happened when State Fire Marshal William Degnan was showing members of the media the power of reloadable shells, which are designed to shoot a canister into the air that explodes into a shower of light.
Watermelons about the size of a volleyball were placed on top of fireworks about 75 feet away from where reporters stood with Degnan and other fire officials who were part of the safety news conference. The first demonstration went as expected, blowing the watermelon to bits, but the second went awry.
The propulsive blast of the shell destroyed the second watermelon as expected, but the decorative burst took an unexpected turn when several fireballs shot toward the onlookers. One glowing pink ember went almost straight to where Degnan stood behind a table covered with unused fireworks, many of them banned because they are considered too dangerous for the public to use.
Fire Marshal Investigator Chris Wyman ended the demonstration right then.