By Pat Jenkins
Fire departments in south Pierce County handled the seemingly requisite number of fires and accidents related to this year’s Fourth of July holiday.
While none were considered serious, there were enough fireworks-related fires or injuries to keep some fire and emergency medical crews busy.
That was especially the case for South Pierce Fire and Rescue. Assistant chief Eric Skogen said the agency answered 17 calls on July 4-5. They included six fires related to fireworks, mostly small grass fires.
One house suffered “moderate” damage when it caught fire July 4, Skogen said. The cause remained under investigation last week.
Skogen said the two worst medical incidents resulted from fireworks—burns on the face of one victim, and a burned hand for the other. Both patients were treated at the scene, he said.
In the areas served by South Pierce – unincorporated areas outside Eatonville, Clear Lake, Ohop Lake, La Grande, Roy, Lacamas, Harts Lake and McKenna – about a 20 percent increase in calls was recorded over 2013’s Independence Day holiday, according to Skogen. He attributed the spike in part to the actual holiday being on a Friday this year.
“In my experience, when the 4th is on a Monday and more people have to head back to their usual routine the next day, there’s not as much activity,” he said.
Graham Fire and Rescue responded to 28 calls between about 11 a.m. July 4 and about 5:30 the next morning, said chief Ryan Baskett. They included one “severe medical call due to fireworks,” he said.
Two vehicle fires weren’t connected to fireworks, Baskett reported.
In Eatonville, one fireworks-related incident resulted in minor flash burns to an adult, said Bob Hudspeth, the town’s fire chief. The victim was treated at the scene.
“There were no fires, so all in all it continues to be a very safe group of people that live and enjoy the festivities and their fireworks in Eatonville,” Hudspeth said.
Unincorporated areas of Pierce County followed the state law for when fireworks can be used – June 28 through 11 p.m. July 5. Within Eatonville’s town limits, fireworks were limited to July 3-4 between the hours of 12 noon and 11 p.m.