Fireworks likely cause of Port Orchard house fire

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PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — The Fourth of July may be over, but many people are still using fireworks and keeping fire crews busy. One Kitsap County home was completely destroyed, and another was damaged. Firefighters believe fireworks are to blame.

When Patricia Franklin’s neighbors banged on her door this afternoon, she looked out and saw huge clouds of smoke and flames coming from one of the homes behind hers.

“It was blazing, everything was. I thought for sure the house was gone.”

Gene Wendt was also worried. He said at first, it was just a small shed next to his property that was burning. But strong winds were causing the fire to spread quickly.

“The trees out back caught fire and that’s when it got pretty scary. We thought we were going to lose the house.”

But fire crews from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue responded quickly, even calling back some off-duty firefighters. They saved most of the homes nearby.

“With the dry weather conditions and the wind we had today, it was pretty fortunate that for the most part we were able to contain it to one house,” says Division Chief Mike Wernet.

Their investigation into the cause of the fire is still underway, but they say several witnesses told them fireworks were being set off in the yard of the home just before the fire. Wendt says fireworks have been a problem all weekend long.

“On the Fourth of July, it was like a fire zone here,” he says. “There was stuff going off for hours and hours and hours right out on the street. These houses are only one 100 foot lots, that ain’t a lot of room to be shooting fireworks.”

Franklin says she’s glad no one was hurt. But she’s worried that there might still be people in the area with fireworks.

“Maybe we just shouldn't shoot them off until the fire danger is over, until we're wet again like normally Washington is. We're not wet right now, we're really really dry and it's really scary.”

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