Fireworks lead to busy holiday for many Tri-City police, fire agencies

·3 min read

Pasco firefighters heard the fireworks that started an early morning blaze on Highway 395 when they happened.

They were battling a fire on the roof of a building at a Pasco mobile home court nearby. Emergency dispatchers received more than 300 fireworks related calls in the Tri-Cities over the holiday weekend.

Investigators have not officially determined the cause of the blaze that broke out on the roof of the office at Flamingo Village Mobile Home Park shortly after 11:15 p.m. Monday, said Ben Shearer, the public information officer for Pasco Fire.

Firefighters work to contain a fire on the roof of the office at Flamingo Village Mobile Home Park July 4 in Pasco.
Firefighters work to contain a fire on the roof of the office at Flamingo Village Mobile Home Park July 4 in Pasco.

But when firefighters arrived they discovered the remains of fireworks scattered around the parking lot.

The fire was contained to the top of the building, Shearer said in a Facebook video. No one was hurt in the fire.

A woman uses a cellphone while approaching the fire damaged office building Tuesday morning at the Flamingo Village Mobile Home Community in Pasco. Fire officials have not yet determined the cause of the Fourth of July fire but discovered the ground littered with fireworks remains when they arrived to extinguish the Monday night blaze.
A woman uses a cellphone while approaching the fire damaged office building Tuesday morning at the Flamingo Village Mobile Home Community in Pasco. Fire officials have not yet determined the cause of the Fourth of July fire but discovered the ground littered with fireworks remains when they arrived to extinguish the Monday night blaze.

As firefighters were battling the blaze, they heard more explosions. This time it led to a natural cover fire along the the northbound lanes of Highway 395.

“We’ve got a 25-yard fire along the freeway,” Shearer said in a Facebook video from just after 12:30 a.m.

These were only a couple of more than two dozen fires that were reported across the Tri-Cities on the Fourth of July. Many started with exploding fireworks.

Fireworks are banned in Kennewick and Franklin County and there are restrictions on the types of fireworks available in Pasco, Benton County and Richland.

Kennewick’s city council recently agree to loosen its restrictions on fireworks, but those changes won’t go into effect until next year.

Those changes will only open the doors for a limited selection of fireworks, similar to the ones allowed in Richland and Benton County.

Debris from spent fireworks litters the gutter and roadway on Sacramento Boulevard near the intersection with Birch Avenue Tuesday morning in Richland.
Debris from spent fireworks litters the gutter and roadway on Sacramento Boulevard near the intersection with Birch Avenue Tuesday morning in Richland.

While firefighters were busy, a combination of people having to be up for work on Tuesday and wet weather over the weekend made for a slower Fourth of July than last year, Kennewick and Richland officials said.

In total, Kennewick firefighters responded to 64 calls on Monday, which is higher than the average of 40, Michael said.

“I didn’t see the volume of fireworks that we had last year,” Fire Chief Chad Michael said. “We still had some fires because of them.”

Richland police saw an overall decline from 68 calls last year to 53 calls this year across the entire weekend.

Pasco police were busy with 204 fireworks-related calls and four firework seizures, Sgt. Rigo Pruneda said. They did write one citation and are investigating a possible arson related to fireworks.

Roses remain but wooden fence boards and shrubs burned Monday night alongside this house on Kellogg Street near West 14th Avenue in Kennewick.
Roses remain but wooden fence boards and shrubs burned Monday night alongside this house on Kellogg Street near West 14th Avenue in Kennewick.

Kennewick fires

According to dispatch reports, Kennewick and Pasco had the majority of calls related to fires. This included two close calls in Kennewick when fireworks landed in arborvitae that bordered the homes.

The first one started at 10:30 p.m. on Volland Street and the second one was at 11:30 p.m. near the corner of 14th Avenue and Kellogg Street, Michael said.

While arborvitae can appear green on the outside, they often have dead branches and leaves inside that burn quickly.

In both cases, the shrubs were planted right up to the house, and firefighters were able to stop the blaze before they reached the homes, Michael said. Some vehicles were caught in the fires, but no one was hurt.

Michael said they had brought in some more firefighters to make sure that there were enough people ready to respond to the increased holiday demand.

Michael along with the two deputy chiefs rode with Kennewick police officers to talk with people lighting off fireworks in the city.

The fire chief rode with Police Chief Chris Guerrero and they talked with 18 groups. Some had aerial fireworks which will not be legal after next year’s change and others had fireworks, like mortar balls, which will never be legal.

They didn’t issue any citations during the patrol, the fire chief said. They were mainly focused on providing education.

“When we made contact, they were very polite,” Michael said. “Most of them were compliant with the direction they were given.”

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