Fireworks blamed for fire that knocked 10,000 Comcast customers offline in Pierce County
PUYALLUP, Wash. – Firefighting officials said Fourth of July fireworks are likely to blame for a number of injuries and property damage across the region.
First responders in Pierce County said fireworks also caught a power pole ablaze – knocking out television, internet and telephone service for up to 10,000 Comcast customers. Access to 911 was also cut after the fire.
Neighbors along 21st Street SE said the flames last night were at least 20 feet high.
A homeowner told Q13 News his family maned a garden hose while he grabbed his chainsaw and cut down a pair of trees to keep the fire from spreading.
Neighbors said the fire spread fast last night around 10 p.m.
“There was some mortars going off and some M-80s in the air,” said neighbor John Bryson.
Witnesses said there was little they could do as they watched a fire sparked by a rogue firework as it spread into trees and into the power lines.
“All I could remember is tell somebody, scream and shout until somebody heard,” said 10-year-old Shay.
Her grandfather Ron McColm said his family watched everything unfold Tuesday night from their driveway.
Spent fireworks found along the street confirmed what neighbors say happened during the holiday.
The spent fireworks on the ground are evidence of what neighbors saw and heard.
“It looked like downtown Mosul, chasing ISIS around or something,” said McColm. “The rockets were going off loud and very numerous.”
In nearby communities, East Pierce Fire and Rescue officials said their call volumes doubled during the Fourth of July and that at least 20 fires were related to fireworks.
While fireworks were legal in many parts of Pierce County on the holiday, the damage to Comcast’s communications line ended up impacting thousands of customers. Residents with Comcast services couldn’t call anyone, and no one in the region could call Puyallup city offices
Cable crews spent most of Wednesday repairing fiber-optic cables to restore service as fast as possible.
Neighbors were grateful nobody was hurt, but worry next year could be worse.
“This shouldn’t be allowed, and it continues to happen year after year,” said McColm.
“Kind of got out of hand it seems like,” said Bryson. “It caused a lot of heartache for a lot of other people.”
Officials from the Puyallup Police Department said they did not cite any neighbors for fireworks violations in connection to the fire.
Comcast officials said the incident was the biggest fireworks-related outage in their service area in recent memory.