Fireworks explosion kills one, injures others at event venue

One man was killed and four other people were injured Tuesday following a reported fireworks explosion and subsequent blaze at an event venue between Gladewater and Gilmer.
Area first responders were dispatched at about 10:30 a.m. to the Firehouse 9 Farm in the 4100 block of Locust Road in Upshur County. Gladewater firefighters were among the numerous engine crews who tackled the “major fire” at the multipurpose commercial property on the Fourth of July.
According to the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, “The incident involved fireworks explosions and other volatile incendiaries.”
Reportedly, individuals on the scene were preparing fireworks for an Independence Day event later in the day in Kilgore.
The victim has been identified as retired Longview Firefighter Jared Maddox. The names of those injured have not yet been released.
According to personnel on the scene, current and former Longview FD firefighters arrived and located Maddox’s body, recovered him in and carried him out under an American flag. Maddox was transported to Southwest Forensics in Tyler for autopsy with a firefighter escort, including Smith County ESD2 firefighters when the body crossed into Smith County.
Per Upshur County Sheriff’s Office, there is no indication of foul play. An investigation is underway from the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms.
According to Gladewater Fire Chief Mike Simmons, nine fire departments responded to the scene under mutual aid agreements along with personnel from other agencies.
In addition to the fatality and four other injured persons, several firefighters were injured in the multi-agency response, including a firefighter from Gladewater. A Gilmer FD firefighter who experienced heat related illness was transported to GSMC in Longview for treatment and was released the same afternoon. A West Mountain VFD firefighter suffered minor burns but was treated on scene and is expected to be fine.
A commercial building on site was fully-involved, Simmons confirmed, “total loss from my understanding.”

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