Within 10 minutes of Wednesday’s carnival-ride accident at the Ohio State Fair, in which one person died and seven others injured, Butler Amusements shut down the ride known as Fire Ball.
The company was operating the spinning thrill ride, the same model that malfunctioned at the Ohio fair, at the California State Fair. The ride will remain shut down pending investigations into the Ohio accident, acccording to Butler Amusements, which also provides rides for The Big Fresno Fair.
“It’s really important that we do all of our due diligence,” said Butler Amusements marketing director Andrea Stillwell.
The company closed the Cal Expo ride on its own, though state officials quickly ordered all Fire Ball rides shut down, affecting five other venues in California: the Orange County Fair (which was using a portable Fire Ball) and permanent rides 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.
Stillwell would not speculate on how long it would be before the model would be deemed safe for operation, or if the Fire Ball might make an appearance at The Big Fresno Fair, which runs Oct. 4-15.
In past years, the Fire Ball has been a popular attraction at the fair; “a dynamic thrill ride,” said Lauri King, the fair’s deputy manager.
All of The Big Fresno Fair’s carnival rides are inspected at least twice prior to being open to the public – once by Butler Amusements and again by a third party contracted by the fair. The fair also works with Butler Amusement to do additional daily and weekly inspections, King said. That will continue at this year’s fair, she said.
“We have a very strict protocol and we will follow it to a tee.”
News of the Ohio accident was met with deep sympathy by those on the fair board, King said. “Our hearts ache. Our hearts are so heavy for the families of all those involved.”
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. 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.