DENVER — A grass fire threatening homes in Arapahoe County on the Fourth of July did little to discourage people from setting off fireworks nearby.
"We saw fountains and all kinds of different fireworks going off right there, right where the crews were," said Eric Hurst, spokesperson for South Metro Fire Rescue (SMFR).
Hurst was on the ground Monday night in Arapahoe County as a brush fire burned dangerously close to homes near the 3800 block of South Himalaya Way.
“When our firefighters arrived in the neighborhood, they could see flames shooting over the rooftops of homes," Hurst said.
As crews contained the fire, fireworks continued to shoot into the sky.
“It’s certainly a concern for firefighters and really for everyone in the community when you see that happening," Hurst said.
Investigators with SMFR didn't have to do much investigative work to determine the cause of the fire.
“We’re pretty dang sure that that was fireworks," Hurst said.
Fires caused by fireworks kept firefighters across the metro area busy on Monday. Most of the calls came between about 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.
"Various types of fires," explained Steve Kornegay, assistant fire chief with West Metro Fire Rescue (WMFR). "Grass fires, two car fires, a few dumpster fires.”
Kornegay said firefighters from his department responded to 17 different fires Monday that were caused by fireworks.
One was a small brush fire near West Alameda Avenue and South Kipling Street.
"It was on a steep slope and houses at the top of the hill," he said. "Had we given it a little bit more time, it definitely could've gotten into those houses."
SMFR responded to three structure fires on Monday, and Hurst said at least one of them was tied to fireworks.
“This July Fourth seems atypical to me," Hurst said. “At any given time, you could look at the list of active calls and see numerous fires occurring across the entire fire district."
Those calls kept firefighters occupied all night.
“It’s busy, so the crews that are running those calls are no longer available for the normal calls that we run," Kornegay explained. “When we have increased call volume like that, it taxes the system.”
Firefighters put out all the fires on Monday, but chasing fires caused by fireworks was not how they wanted to spend their holiday.
“People get injured, brush fires start, houses can catch on fire and all of that can be avoided if people stop using fireworks," Hurst said.
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