Spectators watching the International Fireworks Competition from the Jacques-Cartier Bridge Wednesday night got a fright when they were showered with sparks from two of the devices.
Video obtained by Radio-Canada shows a device known as a horsetail going off close to the bridge and raining sparks down onto the bridge’s deck, where a large number of spectators gathered to watch the shows.
The footage shows people scattering and screaming as sparks fall among them.
There were no reported injuries.
Wednesday night’s show was a tribute to Nelson Mandela by a team representing France.
According to Radio-Canada, competition organizers were not aware of the incident and are now analyzing the video.
Paul Marriott, a licenced pyrotechnician who runs a website dedicated to Montreal’s International Fireworks Competition, witnessed the incident from La Ronde, where the competition's firing site is located.
He said wind was likely to blame in this case, which was not the first time sparks and debris from a display have hit the bridge.
"When the shells explode, the stuff doesn't just disappear, it comes down somewhere. So there are always pieces of cardboard, ash and dust coming down, that's quite normal," he said.
Marriott said the only possible danger in such instances is people getting particles in their eyes.
"The sparks from a horsetail don't burn very hot, they're like the sparks from a bonfire or a sparkler," he said.
He said the best way to protect yourself when watching the fireworks up close is to wear sunglasses or some form of eye protection, especially when there's a wind.
Paul Csukassy, the competition’s technical director, said the most likely culprit was a strong north wind that was blowing Wednesday night.
Csukassy told Radio-Canada that Montreal fire department officials inspect the firing site before every performance. He also said the teams in charge of the performance are able to disconnect devices up until their firing if climate conditions are deemed unfavourable.
Police and fire department officials said they received no public complaints in connection with Wednesday’s mishap.