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Leechburg Police Chief Injured While Setting Off Fireworks

LEECHBURG (KDKA) -- A fireworks display at the Leechburg Fireman's Carnival was abruptly ended by a horrible accident Saturday night.

Jimmy Francis was watching the show with friends.

"One of the fireworks went off, and it didn't go up in the air. Then another two went off, and after those two went off, I heard screaming, 'Help! Help!'" Francis said.

Francis was one of several people who ran to the scene of the accident behind a warehouse on Canal Street. That's when he says he saw a man missing part of his arm and rapidly going into shock.

The Armstrong County District Attorney's Office confirmed the injured man is Leechburg Police Chief Michael Diebold.

Credit: KDKA

"I would say probably from about half the forearm down was missing," Francis said. "He was down on the ground, and he ended up collapsing."

Officials would not confirm the extent of Diebold's injuries.

The D.A. did confirm that Diebold operates a business called Aura Fireworks in Leechburg.

Lisa Washington's Report:

According to state police investigators, the chief was lighting the mortars when one went off, striking him.

"The one firework either was a faulty firework or… something happened where it ended up exploding on the ground," Francis said.

Francis says people were visibly upset, unable to help Diebold.

At last report, Chief Diebold was in stable condition at the UPMC Mercy burn and trauma unit.

A candlelight vigil was held in the Leechburg Fire Hall parking lot Sunday night.

"I think it's important to know that Mike's community is out here to support him," State Police Captain Steve Ignatz said Sunday night. "He's badly injured, but with the strength he's going to get from this community behind him, I'm sure he's going to be fine."

Ross Guidotti's Report:

State police are still investigating the incident.

A custom printing company in Leechburg, Little Devils Imprints, is selling T-shirts to benefit Chief Diebold and his family.

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