Hershey volunteer firefighters on standby put out July 4th fireworks fire

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DERRY TOWNSHIP, DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. -- Spectators caught an unexpected ending to a July 4th fireworks show in Derry Township, Dauphin County.

The show came to a halt after a brush fire broke out during Hershey's annual holiday fireworks display.

Spectator Tanya Hoover said "for the first eight minutes, they had a great show, and then all of a sudden it stopped. Normally, there's a huge finale, but this time there wasn't."

It was around 10:30 Tuesday night as spectators at the 4th of July celebration in Hershey saw more than fireworks.

"We weren't sure at first, and then we happened to look over at the area on the hill where they do set them off, and we saw patches of fire throughout the hill," Hoover said.

"Within minutes, we started hearing the fire trucks, and we thought oh, hope nobody's hurt," Hoover added.

The fireworks were launched from a grassy area across the street from Hersheypark, where firefighters from Hershey Volunteer Fire were already camped out.

Hershey Volunteer Fire Company Deputy chief Rodney Sonderman said "I spotted a couple small spot fires and alerted the chief, and the other officers there. By the time we got in the truck, and had run down to the site, there were multiple fires, and the hill was pretty spectacular."

"It looked like something that could be contained, but at the same time it was worrisome because it was a large amount of the hill that was engulfed," Hoover said.

"Nobody expects those things to happen, but fireworks are very hot, and they do start fires, and so that's one of the reasons we're there on standby," Sonderman said.

Sonderman believes it was simply a combination of dry brush and fireworks that sparked the fire.

"The debris from the fireworks that they had shot off, in the main works, they're still hot when they come back down to the ground," Sonderman said.

Sonderman helped fight the fire from inside his truck, with a joystick and a hose.

"Squirting water on the fire from inside the fire truck, it got a little smoky, and there's people running up and down the field, just making sure that we didn't hurt anybody and everybody comes home safe," Sonderman said.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Twenty Hershey Volunteer Fire firefighters responded to the fire along with ten from nearby Hummelstown and South Hanover.

Firefighters had the fire within 30 minutes.