Video: San Diego fireworks accidentally went off all at once

San Diego's big fireworks display suffered a technical glitch causing all of the pyrotechnics to go off all at once. Ooops. From ABC News:

Garden State Fireworks, the firm hired by the city to produce the show, acknowledged the mistake. “We will be working throughout the night to determine what technical problem caused the entire show to be launched in about 15 seconds. We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties…."
"San Diego Fireworks Show Goes Up in Flames" (Thanks for the video link, chaopoiesis!)


    1. The camera doesn’t really do it justice.  As brief as it was, it was pretty awesome to watch.  :)

    1. Multiple launch sites around San Diego Bay. Which implies some sort of synchronized remote launch system. Which in turn implies the potential for a hack. One wonders…

      BTW here’s a far better video of it:

        1. … then for all the clocks to fail identically, the same setup error by the same tech crew.  Plausible.

          1. That actually sounds fairly similar to the (supposed) origin of Murphy’s Law.  An experiment involving a series of force sensors returned no data; as it turns out, every single sensor had been systematically wired backwards.

      1.  So could the programmable controls powering the firing system be vulnerable to, say, a Stuxnet variant?

        1.  Or maybe they hired Beavis and Butthead to run their fireworks shows?

          Damn, I miss the little weinerheads.

        2. A recent article in the U-T San Diego quotes the owner of the fireworks company as claiming the problem was caused by a “rogue signal” sent by “a virus” in their computerized launch software. You can’t make this stuff up…

  1. It reminds me of the end of “Quatermass and the Pit”. The scene in question scared the crap out of me when I was young and impressionable, because, well, huge glowing things in the sky are scary, that’s all there is to it.

  2. Stay classy San Diego! This I like, however electing birther guy to judge, now that’s a technical glitch.

    1.  Completely off topic – I can’t find anything online about the hard-boiled story you referenced in a post nine months ago called The Deader They Die. You mind telling me who wrote it?

  3. I bet someone programmed all the delays in seconds when it needed to be hundredths of seconds or milliseconds (you enter what you think is 5 seconds to the next shell, but you just specified .05 seconds). There’s no way it was a physical problem with it happening on all three barges.

    1. That theory makes a lot of sense, since it’s apparent from the video that there *was* some sort of sequencing going on (you can see charges firing sequentially), just at an extremely high fire rate.

  4. Nothing says ‘merica like a BIG FUCKING EXPLOSION! I can not think of a more fitting way to celebrate US independence day.

      1. They launched sequentially but at an incredibly rapid rate (see oldtaku’s comment above). But they all launched as designed and exploded in the air, not on the platforms.

  5. We weren’t close, and got to watch another fireworks show (at Fiesta Island) that went off without a hitch. However, we could see all three locations and even from several miles that crap was LOUD. Pretty amazing at a distance. 

  6. We apologize for the brevity of the show and the technical difficulties

    PR fail. Here’s what you say.

    “You are welcome for the off-the-charts awesomeness of the show, which no other fireworks company would even dare to attempt.”

  7. They should consult with my lovely neighbors, who had no difficulty stretching out their pyrotechnic and acoustic displays over the entire day. Maybe the guys in San Diego were too sober.

  8. This was a really good sales pitch for whomever designed the launchers, huh? One hiccup and something terrible would have happened.

  9.  That’s not a glitch. That’s an improvement. It’s a lot more spectacular than watching them go off one at a time over a much larger period of time.

      1.  You have to include all the time spent on Diablo and Diablo II.

        (Actually, after fifteen or twenty levels of Diablo, I stopped playing it.  I’ve never understood the attraction.)

    1. I thought that was just a stray car alarm. (Set off by the vibrations of an entire barge of fireworks going off all at once no doubt)

  10. I’ve had a bit of pyro experience, and with the disclaimer that this is speculation, it’s likely a rather unforgiving feature caused by user error. They were probably using FireOne choreography software and hardware, a really expensive, but very simple and easily scalable system for designing and performing pyro shows. Once you’ve built a database of all your products, you can drag and drop any shell or effect to burst at time “x” to line up with the music, and the software will automatically initiate the effect at time “x-y”, where “y” is the time that effect takes to go from launch until the actual burst. Once you’ve programmed the show, you can easily print out lists of where to hook up every single piece of product, from 1 to whatever; the loaders don’t have to deal with the timings of anything, and come performance time, the operator only has to hit the start button and the show runs automatically along a perfectly-synced timeline.
    Here’s the trouble though: when checking for continuity and connection right before the show, you can move that curser anywhere along the timeline to check when and where and how everything’s going to fire, and you can start and stop anywhere during the program’s timeline without resetting to the beginning every time. If after the continuity check, you don’t reset to the beginning, and you’re now live and ready to fire the real thing and hit start, the curser doesn’t just stop or reset to the beginning, it attempts to play from that spot. And then fires all product that is set to fire from that delay -or earlier-. The software effectively says “now’s the time to fire everything whose delay is less than time “x-y”, and for a time “x” at the end of the show, that’s everything. The operator hits start, the software sends the “fire everything” signal, and you get this. It’s happened a couple times before, it’s a terrible bug I’m surprised hasn’t been fixed, and the lead operator was almost definitely fired for this, that was probably at least $100,000 worth of product shot in 9 seconds. 

  11. I’m not sure how common these are, but at my local fireworks show they had some that directed all their energy not toward glowing burning stuff, but solely toward making the loudest bang possible. They were awesome… you could see them shooting up and then instead of the typical big explosion, it was just an enormous boom. The sound is my favorite part of fireworks shows and this one in San Diego must have been unbelievably great.

    1. You should come to Palm Springs for the fireworks, then. The mountain reflects the sound quite dramatically.

  12. Boss:  “Hey Frank, this field’s value is in milliseconds, not seconds…”

    Frank: “Oh shi…”

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