911 calls for fireworks-related fires in King County nearly quadrupled over last year’s July 4th celebrations.
“It’s pretty close to being in the middle of a war,” Alfonso Doce said. “It’s the worst day of the year.”
Empty fireworks litter on Doce’s street in Skyway remind him that he’s got 364 days until it happens again.
“It’s just one night that’s a complete nightmare,” he said.
Skyway’s one of 16 municipalities in King County where fireworks are still legal.
“It looks like boom city,” said King County Fire Chief Spokesperson Dave Nelson.
According to Nelson, crowds come to Skyway from cities where fireworks are banned.
Even in restricted areas, however, King County fireworks-related fire calls totaled 200 during the July 4th holiday night.
Last year, that number was just 45. Nelson attributes the increase to dry weather and the holiday falling on a Friday.
“Fireworks that damage homes, injure people, and significantly this year, we did see that,” Nelson said.
Fireworks damaged at least three homes. The homes in Snoqualmie and Skyway are uninhabitable due to the fire.
“Flames were shooting 20-30 feet above the roof line,” Snoqualmie resident Greg Harrelson said. “People were still shooting fireworks off in the neighborhood while the house is burning down. That’s really sad.”
In both Snoqualmie and Skyway, fireworks are legal. The third home damaged by fire was in Kenmore, where fireworks are banned.
Burien Police added extra fireworks patrols after complaints in past years. They tweeted all night about fines issued with citations. BPD officers confiscated nearly 200 pounds of fireworks, despite the city’s ban.
“It just drives you nuts for one night of the year,” Doce said.
Last year, Doce tried to petition the city for a fireworks ban. He may try again this year, but admits the process is overwhelming and seems rarely to have success.
“The one thing I pray for all year long is a 4th of July when there’s nobody around our neighborhood.”