Boom, Too Soon: A Brief History of Gun-Jumping Fireworks

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The fiery forerunners of the San Diego mono-explosion 

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In San Diego, 20 minutes' worth of fireworks explode in 15 seconds. (Ben Baller/Instagram)

"Fireworks disaster" usually means disaster in the most tragic sense: an explosion at a fireworks factory or storage depot, in the manner of Enschede or Seest, with lives lost. Last night's mono-explosion in San Diego -- in which a fireworks display that was supposed to play out over 18 minutes exploded in 15 seconds -- was a "disaster" of a much more lighthearted variety. Little, save for the egos of the event's planners, was wounded. And while many attendees were none too pleased to have waited for hours for a show that lasted mere seconds, what they got in exchange for the sped-up show -- to put a silver lining on the golden barrage -- was a much more explosive display. More bang, literally, for their buck.

San Diego's condensed combustion may be the latest gun-jumping fireworks display, but it's certainly not the first. Below, a brief video history of the fireworks mono-explosion, ranging from the spectacular to the legitimately scary:

Pawtucket, Rhode Island -- July 3, 2005

A misfire before a PawSox baseball game caused the fireworks reserved for a later display to ignite inside their boxes. 

Atoka, Oklahoma -- July 3, 2011

An amateur fireworks show in a parking lot gets ahead of itself, merging into a single, low-to-the-ground explosion.

Oban, Argyll, Scotland -- November 7, 2011

An electronic timing glitch led to a fireworks display that was over in less than a minute. It was supposed to last for 20.

Hua Hin, Thailand -- January 6, 2012

New Years revelers at the beach resort got more explosion than they bargained for when a fireworks display spiralled out of control.

And, finally: 

San Diego, California -- July 4, 2012

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Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

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