Comanche fireworks explosion kills 1, injures 3 others

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by JIM DOUGLAS and Associated Press reports

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA and Associated Press reports

Posted on July 3, 2014 at 11:07 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 4 at 12:20 AM

Comanche High School

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COMANCHE, Texas -- A prominent local chiropractor was killed and three others injured in a fireworks explosion at Comanche High School Thursday morning.

According to Comanche Volunteer Fire Department Lt. Marcus Nettleton, the explosion occurred around 9 a.m. as crew were setting up the tubes that house the fireworks for Friday's annual fireworks show.

It's unclear what caused the explosion. One witness said fireworks went off inside a trailer for five minutes or more.

Nettleton said the dead and injured were local community members and had been helping with the fireworks show for more than 20 years. He described the injuries as "serious." The names of the injured have not been released.

Friends confirmed to News 8 the man killed was Dr. Russell Reynolds, Comanche's only chiropractor and licensed pyrotechnician. A black wreath was hung outside of his office Thursday afternoon.

"He loved this community," said Leslie Johnson, an employee of Dr. Reynolds. "He was instrumental in starting lights down on the square for the people of the town. He was always thinking about other people, and not himself."

Reynolds started the community's fireworks show 24 years ago and was a former president of the Comanche Kiwanis Club, which puts on the show, as well as a church deacon. He was once named Comanche's "Man of the Year."

You can read more about the history of the Comanche fireworks show in this blog post from last year.

Publisher of the Comanche Chief newspaper, James Wilkerson, went to the scene after the explosion. He said when he arrived, he saw two vehicles on fire and the trailer that was holding the fireworks destroyed between the softball and baseball fields at the high school.

Christine Perkins, executive director of the Comanche Chamber of Commerce, said Friday's Fourth of July events have been canceled. She said the fireworks show has been one of the largest in the region, drawing 15,000 people, many from metro areas such as Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin.

"We're still in shock," she said. "And definitely in a community our size, there will be some kind of ceremony" to recognize the victims," she said.

The agency has a permit on file that authorized Friday's pyrotechnics, said Rachel Moreno, spokeswoman for the fire marshal's office. She declined to release any additional information, citing the ongoing investigation into the explosion.

The state fire marshal's office and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating.

Comanche is located 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

The Associated Press contributed to this story

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