Pyro Geek Fourth

I spent the 4th of July with a bunch of pyrotechnic geeks. By day, they’re pyro experts, prop creators, and special effects managers for movies in Hollywood. For fun, a bunch of them — all pals of a special effects technician named Hutch — got together to do a fundraising fireworks display for the Southern California city of La Crescenta. I followed them around all day long as they wired mortars and stuffed them with shells, I learned the difference between concussion and detonation, and finally — witnessed a beautiful fireworks display. Afterwards, everyone walked the firing field performing a safety sweep for un-exploded shells, embers, or other dangerous debris, and there was this. What you see here is what happens when one of the fireworks units doesn’t blow up as planned (shoot up into the air to make a pretty display). Instead, the composite detonated down inside the shell, creating what’s known as a “flower pot.” There’s not much left of the pot part, but the stunted blast did create a beautiful sort of pyro flower.
Link to full-size image, more snapshots later.