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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — An appeals court says negligence lawsuits filed by representatives of three workers who died and one person who survived a 2009 fireworks explosion on a North Carolina barrier island can continue.

The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in favor of the estates of the people killed and an injured worker seeking damages against a pyrotechnics company.

Melrose South Pyrotechnics had been hired to put on the July 4 display at Ocracoke Island. The blast occurred as a crew prepared inside a truck. Investigators blamed a small explosion involving igniters for triggering a larger explosion. Four workers in all were killed.

The three-judge panel unanimously upheld a lower court decision refusing to side with the fireworks firm because there were unresolved issues involving the facts in the case.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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