The night of the Fourth of July was slower than usual for some fire agencies in Clark County with almost all of the county under a fireworks ban.
While some agencies stepped up patrols and sounded the alarm of fire danger ahead of this weekend, officials said the ban was effective because of the relatively quiet weekend for first responders.
The Clark County Fire Marshal’s Office, which patrolled the unincorporated areas of the county, wrote seven $500 citations on the night of the Fourth, according to Fire Marshal Dan Young. He said most of those were for people whom officers had already warned earlier in the night but who lit fireworks anyway.
July 3 and 5 were especially uneventful, the fire marshal said.
The Vancouver Fire Marshal’s Office said it would release details about enforcement and potential fireworks-caused fires within the city later today.
The county fire marshal’s office believes fireworks were involved in two house fires this year, the former Cherry Grove Church fire in Battle Ground and a house on Warden Road that had damage to its siding after fireworks thrown in a recycle bin caught fire. Crews were able to quickly extinguish the Warden Road house fire, Young said.
The Cherry Grove Church fire is still under investigation. The church, neighboring house and belongings on the property were total losses.
Both were the night of July 4 or early morning of the July 5, according to the fire marshal.
Last year, officials also attributed two house fires to Fourth of July fireworks. However, Young said the same number of house fires this year points to the dangerous conditions. Far fewer people where shooting off fireworks in light of the ban, and fireworks were only sold in the county for one day prior to the announcement forcing sellers to shut down.
Last year, fireworks were sold the entire week leading up to the holiday and there were no countywide restrictions.
“That goes to show you how dry the conditions were,” he said. “A lot less opportunities, but we had the same amount of structure fires.”
The county fire marshal’s office issued one citation to someone selling fireworks this year on June 30 on Highway 99 after the county issued its ban on selling and shooting fireworks June 29.
County officials were called out much less than previous years, Young said, with patrols focusing on areas closer to Vancouver. In particular, the agency received a lot of calls from the neighborhoods around Orchards Park, according to Young.
Young said that although he feels most people complied with the ban, those who didn’t were more combative than usual and verbally threatened law enforcement.
“I would say most people were fairly respectful to the ban, but those that didn’t respect it — those that disrespected the ban, were also very disrespectful to officers.”
Clark County Fire District 6, which covers the unincorporated communities near Vancouver, including Hazel Dell, Felida and Salmon Creek, responded to 59 calls Saturday and Sunday, 14 of them fire related, according to spokesman David Schmitke. In 2019, crews for Fire District 6 responded to 58 calls, 21 of which were fire related, according to Schmitke. He, too, said crews called the holiday shift comparatively slow and considered the ban effective.