Fire incidents minimal over holiday weekend

Despite concerns about potential trouble from mixing fireworks and dry weather, police and fire officials reported a relatively uneventful Fourth of July weekend.

Perhaps the biggest event requiring an emergency response was a large driftwood fire at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park early Sunday morning. Battalion Chief Ray Merrill with the Oak Harbor Fire Department said the blaze on the beach near the sewage plant was started by fireworks. It took firefighters a couple of hours to completely extinguish it.

“It was a pretty uneventful weekend for us,” Merrill said. “When all was said and done, we had four actual fireworks incidents.”

Oak Harbor Police Chief Rick Wallace said officers were very busy over the weekend; they responded to about twice the number of calls in a typical busy weekend. A total of 38 complaints about fireworks were made by Oak Harbor residents over the weekend. But Wallace said there were no major incidents or major criminal activities.

Likewise, Chad Michael with the Central Whidbey Fire and Rescue said firefighters only dealt with a couple of minor brush fires over the weekend and they apparently weren’t started by fireworks.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown, who worked the roads over the holiday, also said nothing much happened.

“It went as well as could be expected,” he said.

Brown said he was especially relieved that no major fires occurred. There was one brush fire and a couple dozen fireworks complaints on North Whidbey over the weekend. A Rolling Hills resident reported that a neighbor was shooting a potato gun and potatoes were flying into his yard.

“Some people wanted me to ban fireworks with the burn ban, but that’s just not going to happen,” he said.

The 4th of July weekend was hot and sunny, but clouds and a smattering of rain hit North Whidbey Monday morning, no doubt extinguishing any remaining embers from the weekend revelry.

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