Fireworks to blame for brush fire

Fire investigators have determined illegal fireworks are to blame for a brush fire that charred two acres behind Olympic Pointe Apartments in Port Orchard Monday afternoon.

Half a dozen Fire District 7 units responded to the call, which came in just after lunchtime. When fire personnel arrived, they saw dried grasses smouldering dangerously close to a large apartment building and flames sweeping quickly up the hillside behind South Sound Cinema.

A group of kids, the only apparent witnesses to the incident, told investigators they had seen two adults and two children shooting off fireworks just before the fire started.

“I was in the bush getting ladybugs all over and I saw these parents and these kids setting off fireworks — one of those exploding ones,” said 7-year-old Justin Varney, who lives at Olympic Pointe.

His two friends, 10-year-old Cory Silvia and 9-year-old Debbie Parker said they saw the adults try to put out the flames, then stop suddenly and run back to their small red car, which was parked in a nearby lot.

They said the kids with the adults were young — maybe three or four years old.

The fire district is taking the kids seriously and asks anyone who might have seen these four people to immediately call the fire marshal’s office at: 337-7183.

The fact is, explained district spokeswoman Lisa Kirkemo, it is illegal to set off any fireworks after the Fourth of July. In addition, the four suspects could have easily started a fire that spread to Olympic Pointe, causing serious damage and possible injury to the residents there.

“You can see how close it got to the apartment complex,” Kirkemo said.

Fire crews, however, were able to control the fire and keep it away from the nearby buildings.

Piling on water front the parking lot of the Orlando Street complex and access roads beyond the hill, the firefighters quickly turned the bone-dry grassy lot into a mucky swamp and the still-steaming hillside into a cataract of muddy streamlets. The point, said acting Lt. Dan Eastlick, was to douse any smouldering plant material beneath the heavy thatch of burnt, matted grasses. Any material left smouldering could re-ignite and start another full-fledged blaze.

Kirkemo said the crews would be out on the hillside for quite some time making sure all the hot spots were out and “mopping up.”

“And we’ll still have to come back later (to check again),” Eastlick said.

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