Ohio State Fair accident spurs other fairs to close 'Fire Ball' rides

The deadly accident at the Ohio State Fair involving a thrill ride that broke apart has spurred other ride operators and fair officials to shut down similar rides until investigators figure out what went wrong.

An 18-year-old man was killed and seven other people were injured when the Fire Ball ride broke apart Wednesday. Video captured by a bystander showed the ride swinging back and forth like a pendulum and spinning in the air when it crashed into something and part of the ride flew off.

Not long after the Ohio incident was reported, the California State Fair shut down its version of the ride. 

"Our ride is not running this evening ... not running and not going to run until we find out what happened in Ohio and the factory tells us it's okay to operate,"  Barry Schaible, a third-party fair inspector, told FOX 40 Sacramento.

The ride that's now idle in California is similar, but not exactly the same, as the one in Ohio. Both rides, however, were manufactured by the same company in Holland, according to FOX 40.

The Dutch manufacturer of the fairground ride, KMG, told the Associated Press in an email it was built in 1998 in the Netherlands and that there are 43 such rides around the world, including 11 in the United States.

Bas Derkink wrote told the AP the Ohio accident was the first such serious malfunction on one of the rides, and that KMG technicians are not involved in maintaining the Ohio ride.

Albert Kroon, of KMG, told Dutch National broadcaster NOS that the company was on the phone with rescuers to help them figure out how to free those still in the seats after the accident. Kroon said he was shocked by the accident, and that the company's first priority was "freeing the injured people who were still in the seats."

The Fire Ball ride at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk also has been closed, a boardwalk spokesperson told KRON-TV.

The accident in Ohio has had an impact north of the border in Canada, and the Fire Ball ride at Edmonton's annual K-Days fair has been closed "until further notice," CTV News reported.


North American Midway Entertainment, the company that provides rides to K-Days, made the announcement Wednesday after news broke of the Ohio incident.

"While North American Midway Entertainment is not the Midway provider at the Ohio State Fair, due to the tragic incident there this evening we will keep all our Fire Ball rides closed until further notice from the manufacturer for precautionary safety measures," the company said in a statement posted to Facebook. "Our thoughts and prayers are with all involved."

The company providing rides at the Ohio State Fair this year, Amusements of America, describes the Fire Ball as an "aggressive thrill ride."

On its website, Amusements of America said that since its debut in 2002, the Fire Ball, which was manufactured by KMG, had become "one of the most popular thrill rides on the AOA Midway." The company's description of the ride said it swings riders 40 feet above the midway, while spinning them at 13 revolutions per minute.

Amusements of America did not immediately return a phone to Fox News seeking comment.

Ride inspectors did not notice anything out of the ordinary when they conducted their inspections and cleared the Fire Ball for passengers, Ohio Director of Agriculture David Daniels said Wednesday. All of the rides at the fair are checked several times when they are being set up to ensure they are set up the way the manufacturer intended, he said.

In a video from 2012, NBC 4 in Columbus reported on the rigorous inspection process of the ride.

Michael Vartorella, the state's chief inspector of amusement ride safety, said Wednesday that the Fire Ball was inspected three or four times before the fair opened.

"We take this job very serious, and when we have an accident like this ... it hits us really hard," Vartorella said. "My children, my grandchildren ride this equipment. Our guys do not rush through this stuff. We look at it, we take care of it, and we pretend it's our own."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.