Illegal fireworks spark fires across Seattle

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by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on July 5, 2013 at 6:06 PM

SEATTLE – Fireworks lit up the sky, along with a few homes and boats Thursday night. 

The Seattle Fire Department said illegal fireworks were to blame for a massive marina fire, which damaged 14 boats off Lake Union, along with a couple house fires in the Windermere neighborhood.

Tom Emery didn’t need an arson investigator to figure out what sparked the fire on his roof Thursday night. Burned-out bottle rockets washed off his roof as he sprayed the top of his burning home with a garden hose. 

“People think of them as being so harmless because they don’t explode, but they can burn and this is evidence of it,” Emery said.

More evidence was discovered less than a mile away where another home in the neighborhood caught fire minutes earlier. 

Kerry Loveland and his family were not home when an errant bottle rocket landed on his wood shake roof, igniting the fire. The fire department told him that the firework could have come from up to 400 yards away. 

“In a congregated area like this in the city, fireworks are no good,” Loveland said. “Especially when things go so high in the air and can go anywhere and hit anything. Very dangerous.” 

The sounds of illegal fireworks filled Seattle Thursday night, especially around Gas Works Park, which hosted the city’s annual fireworks show. Just a few blocks from the park, an illegal firework started a fire at Skylaunch Marina, causing $1.5 million in damage, the Seattle Fire Department said Friday. 

Boat owners dropped by Friday to survey the damage. 

“It definitely kills our weekend plans to take the boat out,” Jeff York said with a laugh. 

The Seattle Police Department said it had more officers working the Fourth of July than any other day of the year – many working traffic and security assignments. It received nearly 400 fireworks-related 911 calls on Thursday.

However, the police department asked that callers use the non-emergency number to report fireworks complaints and offer as much detailed information as possible. Many callers offer vague descriptions of where illegal actions are taking place, making it hard to catch the culprits. 

Emery, who spent Friday cleaning up the damage to his roof, said people need to realize how dangerous fireworks can be. 

“It’s not a good idea,” he said.  “They should put a lid on that.”

Loveland seconded that statement.

“I have no idea how you enforce it or what you do, but that’s the mayor’s job.”

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