East Pierce battled 20 fires on July 4

East Pierce Fire and Rescue had a busy Independence Day, responding to twice the normal daily call volume.

But things could have been worse and Fire Chief Bud Backer didn’t hide his relief.

“We really dodged a bullet that it wasn’t any drier,” he said.

In total, the department responded to 57 incidents between 8 a.m. July 4 and 8 a.m. July 5, but only some of them were firework-related.

That’s double the number of calls the department responded to last year.

Most calls came in between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m., prime time for July 4 pyrotechnics.

“In those six hours, we responded to what normally would be a 24 hour call volume,” Backer said in a press release.

Of the 30 calls firefighters responded to in that window, 20 were fire-related.

Most were brush, tree and grass fires. One house was reported on fire in Bonney Lake off Locust Avenue, but crews discovered the fire was limited to trees close to the house.

Backer can’t be 100 percent positive the fires were caused by fireworks, since there was no time to investigate the causes, “but the fires started when people began using fireworks in earnest as the sun set,” he said in the release. “Then when it got late, and people were done using fireworks, the fire incidents stopped occurring. That paints a pretty reliable picture.”

Backer noted there were no reports of injuries.

Bonney Lake police officers also had a long night.

Sgt. Ryan Boyle said the department responded to 12 fireworks complaint calls, mostly about mortar shell explosions or raining debris.

This was down from last year, when officers responded to 26 firework complaints, but officers also assisted East Pierce in eight of the fires the fire department responded to that night.

“They were just inundated,” Boyle said in an interview. “There were a lot of fireworks this year. It was intense.”

Enumclaw firefighters and police officers were also busy.

According to Capt. Bob Huebler, the police department and the fire department had two patrols consisting of two officers and one firefighter dedicated to responding to firework complaints.

“This served as a good mix of enforcement and education on the do’s and don’ts involving fireworks,” Huebler said,

The teams responded to 42 total complaints this year, close to four times the number of complaints the department responded to in 2016.

The department recorded no injuries this year, “which makes our classification of this event an overall success,” Huebler said.