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Tossed firework causes season’s first brush fire

June 29, 2011

A misplaced "ground bloom flower with bang" led to a small grass fire Friday on Industrial Loop.

Someone apparently threw the 2-inch firework from a moving car, based on witnesses' reports, according to Fire Chief Devon Wells.

The 60-by-60-foot blaze, on a 10-foot roadside embankment, was doused by firefighters at about 12:45 p.m. before it could spread to trees or nearby structures, according to Wells.

Responding were firefighters from Hood River Fire Department and U.S. Forest Service (who were just blocks away on Wasco Street when the fire was reported).

The fire occurred a half-block north of 13th Street, near the west end of three-block-long Industrial Loop. In the vicinity are homes and businesses; the fire spread to the driveway of Outdoor Wino, an outdoor wine bar on Industrial Loop.

Wells said witnesses at a construction site southeast across Industrial Loop heard what they knew to be a fireworks sound and looked up and saw a car drive by. They did not get a description of the vehicle, Wells said.

"They were outside, saw the car go by, but in itself that doesn't mean anything," Wells said. "That's what I presume happened; somehow a lit firework got to the side of the curb, on a heavily trafficked road, where no one was walking, no kids around. It makes it look like someone tossed it out the window of the car."

He added that the timing of the start of the fire was corroborated by neighbors on the southwest side who had just arrived home five minutes before and saw the fire when they went out on their deck, which overlooks the scene of the fire.

Wells said witnesses reported the fire started "within a couple of minutes after the fireworks was thrown." The property burned is all within city street right of way, Wells said, adding that it did "slight damage" to a power pole.

Though firefighters controlled the spread of the fire, Wells said "the potential was very high," for something worse.

"There was enough wind that driving over there it did make me concerned," Wells said. "The smoke was blowing across the street, enough to make fire move, but not enough for a large fire spread. But the potential for fire spread was definitely there."

He said "it was a concern because it happened virtually in the same place as the Hope fire that happened in 2009, which was substantial." (Several structures and extensive land in the vicinity were burned in that fire.)

"It's just another reminder to people you need to be careful," Wells said. "A firework can start a fire very, very easily."

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