Fireworks-related wildfires, injuries expected leading up to 4th of July

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BONNEY LAKE, Wash. – State and local fire officials are sounding the alarm about illegal fireworks in our area.

The Fourth of July is about a week away. First responders are warning that families could be at risk even if they don’t light off fireworks.

Experts are expecting fireworks-related brush fires and serious injuries leading into the holiday and beyond.

“Just like manufacturing meth, or any other kind of illegal product, there’s a hazard to the community,” said Brennan Phillips with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Every year, explosives experts show what can go wrong when homemade fireworks find their way into the hands of a novice.

Whatever name the contraband is called, Phillips said they have no business being part of your Fourth of July.

“Some guy in his basement or garage is mixing flash powder and putting into tubes,” he said, “They will invariably blow themselves up at some point."

The illegal fireworks skirt regulations, and buyers likely have no idea of their power, according to Phillips.

“It’s just straight up dangerous,” he said.

Even legal fireworks can be dangerous. Every year dozens of people are rushed to local hospitals with severe injuries.

“What we prefer people do is please go to a professional show,” said state Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Janet Pearce. “Leave it to the professionals and let them deal with it.”

It’s not just injuries fire officials are worried about this coming holiday weekend, they’re also concerned about urban forest fires and wildland fires like one that scorched about an acre of land near Bonney Lake.

The cause was still under investigation.

Crews from East Pierce Fire and Rescue had a busy weekend responding to more than three dozen calls for service on Sunday alone.

“We’re already stretched with our resources as far as running the normal calls, then we add these kinds of things to it. The brush fire last night, for example, had our units on scene for three hours,” said Chief Bud Backer.

Backer added that more than 80% of wildfires are human-caused.

The warm and dry weather forecast for our area could provide a recipe for wildfires in the days leading up to the Fourth of July. That’s why Backer asked neighbors to watch out for each other when lighting off fireworks.

“When you light that firework, it no longer belongs to you and it’s going to go where it wants to go,” he said.