Every year, people go to fireworks stands to purchase pyrotechnics for the holidays. In the US, the big holidays are New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July. These stores are heavily regulated to prevent explosions and burns. An explosion that just happened in Mexico City shows what can happen when fireworks get out of control.

The town of Tultepec and the San Pablito Market are known for their making of fireworks for over 200 years. In Mexico, Christmas and New Year’s are the busiest times for fireworks purchases. The stalls were packed with buyers. This was the setup for one of the deadliest explosions at the market to date.

For reasons still unknown, some of the fireworks ignited and ripped off a huge explosion. So far 32 people are dead and several dozens more are wounded. There was mass panic as people tried to leave the market before the fires could spread to other stalls, all with their own explosive payload. The explosion was so powerful that people in neighboring towns could feel the ground shake.

Similar explosions, though smaller, happened in 2005 and 2006. Safety improvements were supposed to protect the patrons of the market, with the government saying that it was safer to shop there than it was to shop at stalls ran out of people’s houses with little regulation. Stalls were separated to prevent fires from leaping across stalls. Despite these and other improvements, of the 300 stalls in the market only 10 are still standing.

Family members are frantically trying to reconnect with loved ones who may be dead or were rushed to local hospitals. Firefighters have put out the flames. Now, the search for bodies and cleanup efforts have begun.

If you have been burned in a firework accident or in an explosion, consult our burn victim resources for information on how you can get help.