Fireworks spark nearly 1,700 complaints in Clark County

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Emergency officials received nearly 1,700 fireworks-related noise complaints throughout Clark County in the days around the Fourth of July this year, according to a report from the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office.

Vancouver police and the fire marshal’s office saw 801 of those calls between June 28 and Monday, July 8, according to the report sent Thursday by Vancouver Fire Marshal Heidi Scarpelli to Vancouver Fire Chief Joe Molina. The fire marshal’s office issued 64 citations during that period.

From June 28 through Sunday, July 7, teams consisting of deputy fire marshals, code enforcement officers and armed private security enforced fireworks laws, Scarpelli said. Enforcement efforts expanded by two days this year.

Additionally, two Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency dispatchers worked overtime on July 3 and 4 to triage fireworks calls.

“The teams were strategically positioned to respond to complaints swiftly, educate citizens and issue citations to violators,” Scarpelli wrote.

The period of June 28 to July 5 saw a 0.32 percent increase in calls, or 79 extra calls per day, to the Vancouver Fire Department compared with average call volumes, according to the report. The department responded to nine brush fires and no structure fires related to fireworks during that period. An estimated $52,350 in damage and no fireworks-related injuries were reported in the city.

In the days around July 4, 2018, by comparison, the Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office issued 104 citations, according to the report. Last year, the fire department responded to 22 fireworks-related blazes, resulting in $495,000 in damage, with one injury. Officials pointed to fireworks as the cause of a house fire on June 28, 2018, in the Rose Village neighborhood that totaled $464,000 in losses.

A ban on sales and use of fireworks in Vancouver was in effect for the third consecutive year. Unincorporated areas of the county and cities such as Battle Ground, Camas and Washougal allowed them but placed additional restrictions this year.

County numbers

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office took in 674 fireworks complaints between June 28 and July 8, followed by Washougal police, 79; Battle Ground police, 72; Camas police, 52; Ridgefield police, 14; and La Center police, 6, according to the report.

The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office handed out 20 citations from June 28 through July 7, Clark County Fire Marshal Jon Dunaway said.

Hazel Dell, Minnehaha and Orchards saw the highest numbers of citations, Dunaway said in an email. “This is the highest amount of citations we’ve given — in the past we tended to give more warnings.”

The county also saw one serious injury, on July 4, when a 36-year-old man was severely injured in an explosion in Ridgefiel, and his arm required partial amputation, according to Clark County Deputy Fire Marshal Caleb Barnes. Officials said they believe the man was mixing ingredients for homemade fireworks that caused the blast. Some cars were damaged by the explosion, but there was no fire and little structural damage to the garage where the explosion occurred.



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