New Year's Eve went off with more of a blast than expected for thousands of Australians as a fireworks display went badly wrong. A barge carrying fireworks at Terrigal Beach, New South Wales, caught fire soon after the display began, causing fireworks to go off at random, some of them toward the beach where families were watching, the BBC reports. Around 5,000 people were evacuated from the beach. Two pyrotechnicians that jumped off the barge and swam to safety were shaken but uninjured, and there were no audience injuries reported, authorities say. Witnesses say there was "absolute chaos" as large amounts of fireworks suddenly started going off.
Authorities suspect a "domino effect" was triggered when one firework exploded inside its canister. David Lambert, a local businessman who led a crowdfunding campaign to bring the display back to Terrigal after an absence of several years, says he will try again this year despite the mishap. He says he asked company Ka-Boom Fireworks to deliver the "best fireworks on the coast" and they promised to make them "really good." "I was sitting right in front of the fireworks with my grandkids and my children and it was the most amazing fireworks I'd ever seen," he tells the Sydney Morning Herald. "I went 'bloody hell, this is a winner,'" he says. "It wasn't supposed to be that good, I don't think." (Read more fireworks stories.)