In a pyrotechnic plant, the onset of fire followed by a localised blaze happened during the manufacturing of fireworks. Following a black powder coating operation, performed remotely, the products were laid out on a tray positioned on a cart for subsequent transfer into a drying oven. The accident occurred as the technician was setting a 5th tray onto the cart; he left the premises upon hearing the crackling sound of fire, which was followed by the actual outbreak, completed with the spraying of pieces of burning material. The technician suffered 1st-degree burns on 20% to 25% of his body, with some 2nd-degree burns as well. The shop room and machinery were also damaged.
The pyrotechnic composition treated and used to manufacture flexible stars was made from barium nitrate, magnesium and the chemical lucovyl. The exothermic reaction was due to an incompatibility, in the presence of humidity, between the pyrotechnic composition and sulphur contained in the black powder. Electrostatic discharge was another possible cause.
The lessons drawn from this accident basically relate to prevention efforts focused on both static electricity (design of a conducting can system to enable the flow of charges during the coating operation, plus the systematic use of metal trays for drying) and chemical incompatibility (use of a colour code for trays and other tools to distinguish their application; tray storage exclusively inside closed premises in order to avoid the presence of atmospheric humidity). The guidelines and operating protocols would be modified accordingly.