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Remaining fireworks detonated at explosion site

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Local and state public safety teams detonate some of the remaining fireworks Friday morning at the Roswell International Air Center following Wednesday’s explosion at a fireworks warehouse. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)
People could been seen Friday morning walking around the damaged warehouse where the fireworks explosion occurred. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

City official says no decision at this time on July 4th show

State and local public safety teams detonated and disposed of fireworks Friday morning at the Roswell International Air Center as they continue their investigation and response to this week’s explosion at a fireworks warehouse that injured 12 city firefighters, two seriously.

The city of Roswell indicated that fireworks remaining at the site following the explosion that occurred about 12:15 p.m. Wednesday would be “decommissioned,” detonated or otherwise disposed of, as they could have been damaged by the heat of the explosion.

The explosion occurred as Roswell firefighters were packaging fireworks for the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display. The Roswell Fire Department has organized and manned the show most years for more than two decades.

New Mexico State Police spokesman Lt. Mark Soriano said that a conex structure, or large container, near the building where the explosion occurred still contained some fireworks and that bomb teams with the New Mexico State Police and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) needed to ensure that the materials were disposed of safely so that investigators can work “meticulously through the rubble” of the explosion.

He indicated that the New Mexico State Police Uniform Bureau is leading the investigation, with the assistance of the ATF, the State Fire Marshal and the Roswell Fire Department. “ATF and State Fire Marshal are working to determine the cause of the ignition of the explosion,” he stated in an email.

City of Roswell spokesman Todd Wildermuth said no public updates were given Friday about the two seriously injured Roswell firefighters, Jeff Stroble and Robert “Hoby” Bonham, who were airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock Wednesday.

A public announcement Thursday morning by the city indicated that the men were in critical condition.

The other 10 firefighters involved in the explosion had minor injuries that did not require hospital stays, city officials have indicated.

Roswell Public Relations Director Juanita Jennings said that city staff have their minds on the well-being of firefighters at this time.

“Prayers would be great,” she said.

She expects that city administrators will begin next week to determine what will occur concerning the Fourth of July celebration at Cielo Grande Recreation Area. The fireworks are funded by the city and the Roswell SERTOMA Club.

“I know that the concert and all that kind of stuff, the vendors, will still continue,” Jennings said, “but at this time the firework show itself is undetermined.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.