All Fire Ball Rides in California Shut Down After Deadly Ohio Incident: Cal/OSHA - NBC Bay Area

All Fire Ball Rides in California Shut Down After Deadly Ohio Incident: Cal/OSHA

The decision comes after a Fire Ball ride broke apart at the Ohio State Fair, killing 1 and injuring 7

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    NEWSLETTERS

    California Requires Yearly Permits for Fixed Rides at Theme Parks, But Not Portable Ones

    Following a deadly Fire Ball ride in Ohio, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit found that all permanent theme park rides must be permitted once a year, but that requirement doesn’t apply to portable rides that travel to various fairgrounds. Liz Wagner reports. (Published Thursday, July 27, 2017)

    The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and other California amusement parks have voluntarily halted all Fire Ball rides following a deadly accident on the same ride at the Ohio state fair on Wednesday, state officials said Thursday.

    The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, or Cal/OSHA released the following statement Thursday: "Amusement ride owners have voluntarily shut down the six Fire Ball rides in California parks, after a fatal ride malfunction on the Fire Ball in Columbus, at the Ohio State Fair."

    Cal/OSHA’s Amusement Ride and Tramway Unit contacted amusement park owners Wednesday evening after hearing about the accident, asking that owners close the rides pending word from the manufacturers, KMG or Chance Morgan, Inc./ Chance Rides, Inc., or after a ride inspection by Cal/OSHA.

    All of the rides have been voluntarily shut down by the owners, the statement said.

    At least one person was killed and seven others injured after the swinging and spinning amusement park ride broke apart on the Ohio State fair's opening day, hurling people through the air.

    Three of the injured were hospitalized Wednesday night, authorities said at a news conference. Two of them were treated and released, but the other remained hospitalized in critical condition Thursday morning.

    Dramatic video captured by a bystander shows the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air before part of the ride flies off, throwing riders to the ground.

    Sisters Britney and Kiley Neal were next in line for the Fire Ball when the ride broke apart.

    Speaking to the "Today" show Thursday, Britney said: "The ride was going as normal, then all of a sudden you see people flying out. Then the guy hit the emergency stop button, which made the seat fly off."

    "The whole row just broke off, and they went flying," Kiley added.

    In a statement, the Ohio State Fair said: "Our hearts are heavy for the families of those in last night's tragic accident." The fair also said all rides will be shut down until they are inspected by the state, but other activities at the fair will go on as scheduled.

    "The fair is about the best things in life, and tonight with this accident it becomes a terrible, terrible tragedy," said Republican Gov. John Kasich.

    The man who was killed was one of several people who were thrown when the ride malfunctioned, Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Steve Martin said earlier.

    The Fire Ball ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was shut down late Wednesday night hours after a deadly incident involving the same ride at the Ohio State Fair.

    Officials with the Santa Cruz Boardwalk said they closed down the ride out of an abundance of caution.

    Boardwalk spokesman Kris Reyes said officials were planning to inspect the ride Wednesday night, but darkness made it more difficult. So park officials inspected the ride Thursday morning in addition to the usual daily check.

    "We are keeping the ride closed indefinitely until we hear more from the state," Reyes said.

    However, there are key differences between the Santa Cruz ride and the one in Ohio, according to Reyes. The Fire Ball at the Ohio State Fair is portable, which means it can be taken apart and moved from one event to the next.

    "Our ride is a fixed ride, a permanent amusement ride," Reyes said. "It’s inspected daily as state mandated. California has some of the most stringent ride safety rules in the world."

    Reyes stressed that only one injury has been reported since the ride came to the boardwalk in 2003. In that case, someone fell on the platform before climbing onto the Fire Ball.

    Regardless, boardwalk operators plan to talk with the Netherlands-based manufacturer to see if there are any special adjustments they need to make after the horrific accident in Ohio.

    A handful of tourists walking along the Santa Cruz boardwalk were relieved Thursday that the ride had been closed.

    "I’m kind of glad it’s closed down because I don’t want anyone to get hurt either," said 12-year-old Sabine Harnisch.

    For others, the tragic accident in Ohio is reason enough to skip the thrill altogether.

    "I like staying on ground level and this confirmed it for me," said Matteo Timpanaro-Perrotta.

    On its website, Amusements of America says that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball has become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company description of the ride says it swings riders 40 feet above the midway while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

    Fire Ball rides are located at six parks across the state, including:

    • Orange County Fair owned and operated by Ray Cammack Shows (portable ride)

    • Cal Expo State Fair owned and operated by Butler Amusements (portable ride)

    • Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

    • California’s Great America in Santa Clara

    • Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park

    • Belmont Park in San Diego

    Santa Cruz Boardwalk Closes Ride After Deadly Ohio IncidentSanta Cruz Boardwalk Closes Ride After Deadly Ohio Incident

    The Fire Ball ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was shut down late Wednesday night hours after a deadly incident involving the same ride at the Ohio State Fair. Sergio Quintana reports.

    (Published Wednesday, July 26, 2017)

    NBC Bay Area's Michelle Roberts, Sergio Quintara and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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