Riverfire 2016: Medical emergency delays start

A festive air washed over Brisbane city on Saturday afternoon as the crowds gathered and anticipation grew for the annual Brisbane Festival finale, Riverfire.

An estimated half a million people lined the Brisbane River to hear the roar of a Super Hornet jet and witness more than five tonnes of fireworks light up the night sky.


Boats jostled for position on the water while restaurant staff were kept on their toes with fully booked events.

It was a particularly memorable night for Sid Shivpuri who won a Sunsuper competition to be Riverfire launch master and press the start button on the massive fireworks display.

Riverfire 2016.
Riverfire 2016. Photo: Charlyn Teo – Twitter

Mr Shivpuri said he had the best seats in the house, on a Sunsuper balcony next to the Victoria Bridge and QPAC.

“It was most definitely best view, I had a 180-degree view up and down the river.”

But his big moment didn’t go entirely according to plan.

At the scheduled start of 7.05pm, Mr Shivpuri pressed the launch button, while being filmed as part of Channel Nine’s coverage, but nothing happened.

Riverfire 2016.
Riverfire 2016. Photo: Scott Clark – Facebook

Mr Shivpuri was later told there had been a last-minute delay due to “a medical emergency” requiring a helicopter.

An RACQ LifeFlight spokeswoman confirmed a medical helicopter arrived at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital at 6.50pm to collect a specialist paediatric team required to treat a baby with a chest infection at Cherbourg, 250km west of Brisbane.

Riverfire 2016.
Riverfire 2016. Photo: Amy Leicht – Twitter

As a result, the airspace over the city was cleared, meaning the Super Hornet did not complete it’s scheduled flyover and the fireworks started four minutes late.

After a few minutes, the button was pressed again and the fireworks erupted.

Meanwhile, at the top of Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Classic Ice Creams owner Jack Rigaud was busy in his vintage van throughout the afternoon and into the night, and described Riverfire 2016 as one of the best displays he’d seen.

He said the crowds were happy and “overall very well-behaved.”

Rotary Club of Woolloongabba volunteer Ros Kelly, who has been helping to run a sausage sizzle at the cliffs for the past seven years on Riverfire night, said the F/A-18F Super Hornet fly-overs were a highlight with the crowds before an impressive fireworks display.

She said a party atmosphere had swept across the cliffs as soon as police closed the street at 4pm.

Many groups had secured their vantage spots along the cliffs and along the river around the city and at South Bank several hours earlier.

RACQ LifeFlight has confirmed the baby was in a stable condition in hospital on Sunday morning.