The display started innocently enough. Fireworks crackled in the California sky. People gathered, transfixed by momentary comets of red and white.
And then ...
A fireball illuminated the sky, sending attendees scurrying - and more than two dozen victims to area hospitals, injuries caused by a major malfunction.
"Oh my God!" attendees yelled. "Run! Run! Run!"
Thursday's malfunction - caused when a wooden platform holding live fireworks tipped over - sent at least 28 people to the hospital, with four listed in serious condition.
"For some unknown reasons the structure that holds these ordinances collapsed and caused them to be firing into the crowd," said Simi Valley police Cmdr. Stephanie Shannon.
Nothing this jarring had previously happened at the Fireworks Extravaganza, a yearly event in Simi Valley, a city located about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
This year's finale emerged too soon, too close, too big, too loud.