Amusement ride owners have voluntarily shut down six Fire Ball rides in California, including one at the State Fair, after a similar ride killed one person and injured others in Ohio.
The Cal/OSHA amusement ride unit contacted owners Wednesday evening after getting notification about the fatal ride malfunction on the Fire Ball ride in Columbus at the Ohio State Fair.
The state asked that owners close the rides, pending word from manufacturers, KMG or Chance Morgan Inc/Chance Rides Inc. or after a ride inspection by Cal/OSHA. Among the venues that shut Fire Ball rides was the one operating at Cal Expo.
Ride operator Butler Amusements and the California State Fair released a statement:
“After hearing the news of the incident on an amusement ride in Ohio, Butler Amusements, which operates the Fire Ball ride similar to the one in Ohio, took a proactive approach to close the ride.
“Safety is the top priority of Butler and the California State Fair. Together, we are committed to ensuring our guests’ safety.”
It was unclear when the Fire Ball rides will begin operating again. The State Fair closes Sunday.
Another portable Fire Ball ride was also shut down at the Orange County Fair. Four other rides were also closed: at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, California’s Great America in Santa Clara, Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park and Belmont Park in San Diego.
The Associated Press reported that inspectors repeatedly looked over the Fire Ball when it was assembled at the Ohio State Fair. Inspectors signed off on it hours before it flew apart, flinging passengers through the air.
Investigators on Thursday worked to find what caused the opening-day wreck that killed a high school student and injured seven other people. Ohio Gov. John Kasich shut down all rides at the fair and ordered them inspected again.
Video taken by a bystander of the swinging, spinning Fire Ball ride in action captured a crashing sound. A section holding four riders came apart, and screams could be heard as at least two people were ejected and plunged toward the ground. Other riders were still in their seats as they fell.
Tyler Jarrell, 18, of Columbus, was thrown about 50 feet and pronounced dead on the midway. The Associated Press reported that the Marine Corps and school officials said that Jarrell enlisted last week and was going to begin basic training next summer after his high school graduation.