A family in Nebraska is speaking out after a video of their catastrophic Fourth of July firework accident went viral.
Initially posted on Reddit, the video — which has since been removed — shows party-goers at a private home preparing to enjoy the fireworks display, before the worst happens.
"The firework was supposed to go up, but it did not," one of the homeowners told TODAY Parents. The homeowners asked that they remain anonymous to protect their privacy. "It caused another box of fireworks to ignite, and when the rest of the fireworks ignited they shot to the left and the right. And the rest is kind of history."
In the video, three adults are seen lighting the fireworks before backing away. As it ignites, the fireworks shoot sideways, towards a group of adults and children. As parents and kids begin to scream and some parents start to grab children to move them out of the way, another set of fireworks ignites into a ball of flames behind a vehicle parked in the homeowner's driveway.
More fireworks explode on the ground near the vehicle, sending the party-goers running. Balls of fire can be seen hurling at the area where they once sat.
Thankfully, the homeowners say, nobody was injured.
The video was captured on a SimpliSafe camera, prompting some people online to assume the alarming video was a marketing stunt on behalf of the home security company. On Thursday, SimpliSafe was trending on Twitter.
The company, however, says the video "is decidedly not" part of a marketing campaign.
"Customer video and audio cannot be accessed without permission by anyone besides the owner, so we were just as shocked to see the video online after the customer shared it," Scott Braun, chief growth officer for SimpliSafe, told TODAY Parents in a written statement. "As a company that’s in the business of protection, we do not make light of events that would put our customers’ safety at risk, whether those incidents are within our control or not."
The family confirmed they were in no way part of a marketing ploy on behalf of the company.
"We want to make it clear that this was not planned, by us or by SimpliSafe," the homeowner said. "We always practice firework safety. We've thrown this party every year for several years without incident. It was just a faulty firework, and as soon as SimpliSafe found out who we were, they reached out, concerned with the safety of everybody involved."
'It was very surreal'
One of the homeowners says she was sitting on the porch when the faulty fireworks exploded, and immediately ushered the kids nearest to her — children of some friends attending the party — inside the home and to safety.
"It was very surreal," she said. "It was crazy. Once we made sure that everyone was safe and out of the way, I watched it from our front door."
The fire and subsequent explosion was so large, and the smoke so dense, the nearby vehicle was at one point impossible to make out in the video.
Once the fire started to dissipate, the homeowner says she went back outside and grabbed the hose in the front yard to extinguish the rest of the flames.
"We did want to make sure that if there were any shells that hadn't fired, that they were watered down and wouldn't ignite," she explained.
To her surprise, no one was injured and the vehicle in the video was not damaged by the explosion and ensuing fire.
"It runs and drives perfectly fine," she said of her Honda Odyssey.
'We were blindsided by this video getting out.'
As scary as the incident was, the homeowners say the viral video of the incident has been the "most horrible part" of the entire experience.
"You had something bad happen to you, and then slowly but surely people start to piece together your location," the homeowner said. "A couple people have driven by and yelled, 'You're those people!' We've had people yell everything from 'way to blow it up' to 'hey, you're famous.'"
The homeowner said that SimpliSafe had sent a tweet, that did not include the video, wanting to make sure everyone was safe, and a well-intentioned neighbor shared the homeowner's address online.
"That made things much worse than they were originally," she added. "We were blindsided by this video getting out. A friend of ours was sitting on our couch on the evening of July 5 and she was just scrolling through Reddit and said, 'Hey, this video is on Reddit.' Immediately, everybody went into hyperdrive, trying to figure out who the person was that posted it; how they got the video; where it came from."
After some digging, the family figured out how the video got online. Worried that any nearby vehicles may have been damaged, the homeowners sent video of the incident to the vehicles' owners, in case they had to file an insurance report. One of those owners sent the video to their brother, who they say then posted it on Reddit.
"The original poster of the video did actually reach out to us and sincerely apologized," the homeowner explained. "He never imagined that things would go this far. He actually took the video off of his page on Reddit, but by that time another gentleman on Twitter had posted it, and it just really blew up."
'We become complacent with our safety'
The family says that while they'll certainly host another Fourth of July party next year, they'll be thinking twice about lighting off fireworks as part of the festivities.
"The next time we have a large family gathering, or multi-family gathering and we're able to purchase and shoot fireworks, we will probably forego that," the homeowner added.
She also hopes that people learn from their experience — especially people who think a similar situation can never happen to them.
"We've done this dozens and dozens of times with no incident," she said. "I think there are lots of people in our situation who buy fireworks thinking they're just going to watch pretty colors...We think that because there's never been a mishap, that immediately makes us responsible.
"You're responsible individuals, but with gunpowder wrapped in clay," she added. "I think the more complacent we get with our safety, the easier it is for things to happen."