FIREWORKS: Home-protection advice from SFD, one year after a big West Seattle fire

While we’re talking about fireworks … even if you don’t use them, someone else might set them off near your house or apartment. On the Fourth of July last year, fireworks sparked a large fire at the foot of Gatewood Hill:

(WSB photo from 7/4/2020)

That was a photo we took from our car as we happened onto the scene shortly after the fire at California/Myrtle had started, even before SFD arrived. The memory is fresh for local firefighters, too. We asked the Seattle Fire Department about prevention advice – in addition to “Don’t use fireworks” – and here’s what SFD public educator William Mace offered:

Every year, the personal use of fireworks cause fires and injures people in the Seattle area. Last year, the Seattle Fire Department responded to 16 fireworks-related fires including two structure fires. One significant fire happened on July 4, 2020 in West Seattle where fireworks ignited dry brush in front of a four-story apartment building which then quickly extended to the top floor balcony.

(7/4/2020 photo by Rick Cook)

Fortunately, no one was injured, but several residents were displaced and the total estimated loss was $100,000.

The recent hot, dry weather significantly increases the risk for dry grass, bark, and brush fires. A firework can easily start a fire in these conditions.

Here are ways to reduce fires caused by fireworks near your home:

Remove branches, dry grass and anything that can burn from around your home.
Make sure tree branches are not touching your home.
Clear roof and gutters of evergreen needles and leaves.
Don’t leave cardboard or loose paper recyclables outside – make sure they are in a closed bin.
Keep a garden hose with nozzle hooked up and ready to use.
Also, make sure smoke alarms are working by pushing the test button.

If you experience a fire, please call 9-1-1 immediately after you are in a safe location away from the fire.

Two years ago, in unincorporated King County, a fireworks user started a two-house fire that killed a man.

8 Replies to "FIREWORKS: Home-protection advice from SFD, one year after a big West Seattle fire"

  • Donn July 1, 2021 (4:24 pm)

    Can’t wait until 2022 when Fireworks in King County will be banned.

    • Reed July 1, 2021 (4:59 pm)

      They’re already banned in Seattle, a lot of good that does.

    • westwood July 1, 2021 (5:04 pm)

      No kidding.  Then there won’t be any fireworks going off at all.  :-/

    • Ks July 1, 2021 (8:46 pm)

      Totally agree. It will make it that much harder for people to purchase fireworks. I hope Seattle adopts an app like Bellevue did, where people can report fireworks and if there is a cluster then police know where best to respond. 

  • Chris July 1, 2021 (5:24 pm)

    There seems to always be fireworks in our area of North Admiral.   We wish something could be done to stop them, however they continue.   Just hoping for no fires this year.

  • Auntie July 1, 2021 (5:41 pm)

    Don’t hold your breath. Fireworks in the city of Seattle are banned and our neighborhood sounds like a war zone, usually for a day or two before to a day or two after. A ban is meaningless if it’s not enforced.

  • anonyme July 2, 2021 (4:01 pm)

    It appears the entire burden of dealing with illegal fireworks is being placed on law-abiding citizens in the form of having to take extensive, defensive measures to protect themselves.  Here’s a thought: put some pressure on the lawbreakers for a change.  Enforce the law.  Lots of people now flee Seattle over the Fourth because it’s become unbearable.  When are we going to see policies – better yet, actions – that punish the lawbreakers, instead of everyone else?

  • Safe and Sane in WS July 2, 2021 (6:31 pm)

    Fireworks are already illegal in Seattle but are still a huge problem.  Don’t be shy about reporting illegal fireworks to 206-625-5011, the non-emergency line for the Community Safety and Coordination Center! Here is language from Councilmember Lisa Herbold’s email today: “Remember, fireworks are illegal in the City of Seattle. If you want to report the illegal discharge of fireworks, please do not call 9-1-1, but instead use the non-emergency line for the Community Safety and Coordination Center (206-625-5011). On a historically busy weekend in the City, the use of 9-1-1 should be reserved for life-threatening emergencies only.”

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