Saturday, July 04, 2009


I was sitting at my kitchen table about 9 o'clock this morning, putting the final touches on the banner for our parade float, when the house shook from the blast of a huge explosion. I ran to the front porch just in time to see a gigantic plume of white smoke rise up from the direction of the old Coast Guard Station. "Oh no!" I thought, "it's the fireworks."

This is what I've learned so far from what I've seen, and from news circulating on the street: Workers were unloading the truck carrying the fireworks, when it exploded. I've heard that at least one person was killed, and several are seriously injured. At least four emergency helicopters flew to the island to evacuate the injured. According to neighbors, no islanders or vacationers were among the dead or injured.

The exploding fireworks set the vegetation on fire between the Coast Guard Station (NCCAT) and the ditch (the entrance to the harbor), but our fire fighters were able to extinguish the blaze.

Ferries from the mainland were sent back since emergency vehicles, personnel, and helicopters were occupying the roadways and parking areas around the ferry slips. I also heard that Hatteras ferries were shut down until sometime later today.

I have had no word about any of the Independence Day celebrations.

I will write more as I get other information. For now, everyone is in shock, and feeling deep sadness for the injured and dead.


  1. Anonymous12:37 PM

    This is just terrible. Thank you for filling us in with as much as you knew. The thought of such a fun holiday celebration being radically transformed by such tragedy is a mind stretch. SSD

  2. Thoughts and prayers with all of Ocracoke.

  3. Hi Philip ~ just an FYI that the parade will not take place today. I heard that there might be a time of prayer for the victims at 3 PM at the parade start route (Ocracoke Child Care), but I am not 100% sure if that is correct or not.

  4. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those hurt in the explosion and with the people of Ocracoke.

  5. Anonymous4:59 PM

    I just read the news on an on-line post. I am glad no islanders or vacationers were hurt, but my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed or injured. J. from VT.

  6. Hi Phillip.
    So sorry to hear of the tragic explosion today and our hearts are heavy for the family who lost someone and prayer for the families' critically injured. It is a sober reminder of just how dangerous fireworks can be. Thank you for sharing the good and bad of Ocracoke with allows us to stay connected even through prayer.

    Linda & Tom Borneman

  7. Anonymous5:42 PM

    I'm not a truck driver but when did these people leave ? it is an 8 hour drive from Catawba -- the photo of the flatbed in the parking lot is a devastating scene. It causes one to ask was a nearby car occupant smoking using a cell phone was there a gas leak in the truck one has to ask where did the flash point come from.... it is so sad I am so sorry.

  8. Condolences to the bereaved, best wishes to the injured for a speedy recovery, and sympathies to the entire Ocracoke community, both on and off island. The Outer Banks are no stranger to disaster, but it always leaves a numbness to those closest to it.

  9. A very sad day for Ocracoke and the families of those killed and injured in today's tragedy on the Island. Hopefully there will be a silent memorial procession in lieu of a parade to honor the victims and their loved ones on Sunday.


  10. Our thoughts and prayers for everyone involved.
    Don and Mandy Davis
    Ranburne, AL

  11. In answer to the question from anonymous, I believe that the truck actually came to the island from Catawba on Friday the 3rd.