PORTLAND – Thousands of families gathered on the Eastern Prom Sunday night for a patriotic extravaganza of music and fireworks that almost didn’t happen.

The show went on despite the Portland City Council’s decision in April to eliminate $45,000 for the display from the city budget. A few days after that decision, several business executives stepped forward and pledged money for the show, adding a pops concert by the Portland Symphony Orchestra.

After the show concluded, firefighters and workers for Atlas Pyrotechnics discovered a fire on the trailer that contains about 300 plastic tubes used to fire the shells. The fire did not disrupt the show and no one was injured, but firefighters initially opted to let the trailer burn rather than approach it to try to douse the fire because they could not determine if any fireworks remained in the tubes, said Nicole Clegg, Portland’s spokeswoman.

At 11:25 firefighters determined there was no danger in approaching the trailer and were putting the fire out. They expected it to be extinguished in about half an hour.

Most people on the Eastern Prom were probably unaware of the fire because the area where the shells are fired is largely out of sight. But the fire and thick black smoke were visible to people watching the display from dozens of boats anchored just off the East End.

In 1997, a faulty lift charge – the device that sends the fireworks shell hundreds of feet in the air – went off just three feet off the ground, setting off boxes of other fireworks nearby. That year’s show ended after just a few minutes and three workers were injured.