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Fireworks explosions kill 4 in N.C., 1 in Penn.

Image: Smoke is seen across Ocracoke Island, N.C. Saturday, July 4, 2009 after a truckload of fireworks exploded
Smoke is seen across Ocracoke Island, N.C., on Saturday after a truckload of fireworks exploded on a dock, killing four workers preparing for an Independence Day celebration, authorities said.Joseph Chestnut / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Five people working on Independence Day fireworks shows were killed by explosions, four of them by a single blast that rocked this remote village on the Outer Banks islands.

The fifth died after an explosion at a fireworks show in Pennsylvania, police said.

In addition, a pedestrian bridge collapsed in Indiana as fans were leaving a fireworks show, injuring 25 people. Authorities said Sunday the crowd had overloaded the bridge.

The blast at Ocracoke came as workers were unloading fireworks Saturday from a truck at the Anchorage Marina, shaking homes and businesses across the southern end of Ocracoke Island and rattling residents and tourists.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were on the island off the North Carolina coast Sunday investigating.

Dock master Robert Raborn was about 200 yards away from the truck and said the explosion was one of the loudest things he had ever heard.

"It was like 40 minutes worth of fireworks going off in four seconds," Raborn said.

One of the workers died at the scene Saturday and three others died later at area hospitals, including one who died on Sunday, said Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell.

Another person was listed in fair condition at the North Carolina Jaycee Burn Center at the UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill.

In addition, two firefighters were treated for inhalation and exhaustion, she said. One was released Saturday night from Outer Banks Hospital, and the other was expected to be released Sunday.

The Ocracoke victims worked for Melrose South Pyrotechnics near Rock Hill, S.C. The company said it had sent a representative to work with investigators.

Meanwhile, a silent parade in tribute to the victims was planned later Sunday along the intended route of Saturday's parade.

Pennsylvania state police fire marshals were investigating the death of a worker Saturday at the start of the grand finale of fireworks at Quakertown's Memorial Park.

Quakertown Police Chief Scott McElree said authorities immediately halted the show and evacuated part of the park in eastern Pennsylvania.

Authorities did not immediately identify the man's employer.

At Merrillville, Ind., the collapse of a wooden pedestrian bridge dropped at least 50 people into a lake Saturday night and injured about half of them, police said. None of the injuries was life-threatening, authorities said.

The collapse occurred at Hidden Lake Park in Merrillville, about 45 miles southeast of Chicago, as spectators were leaving a fireworks display at about 10 p.m.

The wooden, cable-suspended bridge could handle about 40 people at a time but as many as 80 were on it when it gave way, said Ross Township Trustee John Rooda, who attended the fireworks show. The township operates the park.

"The problem is it was overloaded," Rooda said. Merillville police officers were stationed at either end of the 90-foot bridge to control the number of people, but the crowd "rushed" the officers, Rooda said Sunday.

In Albuquerque, N.M., a man watching a fireworks show was killed by lightning from a thunderstorm Saturday evening and his wife was also injured, police said. Names of the victims were not released and authorities said the woman was listed in stable condition at a hospital.

And in Missoula, Mont., an 8-year-old girl was accidentally electrocuted and two other children were injured while watching a fireworks show Saturday night from a church rooftop. Missoula County Sheriff Mike McMeekin said the children had climbed on some air-conditioning equipment.

Home fireworks shows also proved dangerous.

In Wisconsin, Jefferson County Sheriff Paul Milbrath said a 12-year-old boy suffered a head injury when he was hit by one of the pyrotechnics fired at a July Fourth party. The boy was taken to a hospital in Milwaukee. His name and condition weren't released.

The Callahan Eye Foundation Hospital in Birmingham, Ala., treated five patients who were hurt in fireworks accidents, spokeswoman Gail Short said Sunday.

Flames from fireworks damaged at least seven homes in western Washington state and destroyed some ranch housing near Harrah on the Yakama Indian Reservation, causing more than $2 million in damage, authorities said.