Emergency crews fielded roughly twice as many calls as usual while Pierce County residents shot off fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July.
The county’s fire dispatch center had 503 incidents from 8 a.m. Saturday through 8 a.m. Sunday, compared with the usual 200 to 250 during a 24-hour span, according to Orting Valley Fire & Rescue.
Tacoma Fire estimated it had more than 60 fires between 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday afternoon.
“I lost count,” Central Pierce Fire & Rescue spokesman Ed Hrivnak said about how many fires his agency responded to.
About 5 p.m. Saturday, a fire along westbound state Route 512 near the Woodland Avenue overpass caused traffic backups for miles, Central Pierce reported.
And a brush fire caused by fireworks burned Saturday afternoon in a residential part of Spanaway, according to Central Pierce.
They had more than 40 brush fires Saturday and overnight, and at least four residential blazes, two of which were significant, Hrivnak said.
Flames damaged a small rambler when a fire started in the garage about 8 p.m. near the 1600 block of West Pioneer Avenue.
And a duplex in the 3900 block of 152nd Street burned about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, which also damaged two adjoining homes.
The causes of both were still being determined, but Hrivnak said it appeared fireworks were being used at both places earlier.
No one was injured.
The agency staffed two additional fire engines Saturday to help handle increased calls on the Fourth of July, Hrivnak said.
Elsewhere, West Pierce Fire & Rescue said fireworks caused a blaze at the skate park in University Place’s Cirque Park on Saturday afternoon.
And East Pierce Fire & Rescue said its crews saved a home from a fast-moving brush fire in the Sumner Heights area of Edgewood, in the 5100 block of Monta Vista Drive East, the fire agency union reported on Twitter.
East Pierce crews responded to 28 brush fires and three structure fires Saturday, East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520 said.
Key Peninsula Fire said a fireworks barge exploded and caught fire in Vaughn Bay but was extinguished by the participants without injuries. Firefighters on the agency’s second shift also had four brush fires.
“It’s a little past midnight so hopefully we are done for the night,” the agency said on Facebook.
Sunday’s weather conditions were actually worse for fire danger than Saturday, Hrivnak said. And given that residents could legally set off fireworks until 11 p.m. Sunday in the unincorporated county, he was worried.
“It’s actually hotter and drier today,” he said.
They had at least one brush fire Sunday related to fireworks in Parkland.
“Engine 60 is just being dispatched to a brush fire now,” Hrivnak said.
That appeared to be for a blaze that burned 2 acres near Emerald Ridge High School.