Take a speedy trip through Bellingham's 2018 fireworks
While you were enjoying your hot dogs, hamburgers, apple pie, family, friends, fireworks and beer during Wednesday's holiday activities, members of Whatcom County's fire and law enforcement communities were hard at work making sure everyone stayed safe and sane while having fun.
And it was pretty much all fun and games — at least until someone threw lit fireworks in a portable toilet in Birch Bay early Thursday morning, catching the unit on fire and forcing North Whatcom Fire to respond.
OK, time to break out those juvenile jokes — you know, the ones that aren't printable in a "family" newspaper.
"Yeah, you could say it was a poopy way to start the day," Division Chief Henry Hollander quipped.
Fortunately, that was the highlight from what Hollander called a relatively "average" Fourth of July.
"I think what helped us was the rain we had a couple of days before," Hollander said. "We had about a half dozen spot fires of grass and trees, but nothing too serious."
Hollander said North Whatcom did have one fireworks-related call that involved some minor abdominal burns to one unlucky person.
Whatcom County Fire Marshal's investigator Mitch Nolze said their were several brush fires throughout the county Wednesday, though he still is compiling just how many there were.
"It was probably about average," Nolze said. "We were very active for a while. It was a fairly busy Fourth — we just didn't have that many structures impacted, but a lot of brush fires."
Nolze said one fireworks-related brush fire did spread to a nearby house and car in the 700 block of Marine Drive.
He also said there was one wild land fire, north of Lake Samish. Washington State Department of Natural Resources public information officer Janet Pearce said two engines responded to that fire at about 1:30 a.m. and seven were on scene Thursday morning mopping up hot spots after approximately a half acre was burned. Pearce said the fire was human caused and is still being investigated.
Lynden Fire responded to six fire-related calls Wednesday, Acting Chief Chad Baar said, but fortunately nothing was major. One of those fires almost involved a structure after some discarded fireworks were put in a trash container and smoldered, nearly catching the corner of a garage on fire. Fortunately, Lynden Police spotted the fire before the structure was fully involved and they were able to extinguish it, Baar said.
"We were definitely more active than we have been in the last few years," Baar said. "Even though we had some rain, it was pretty dry in May and June."
Assistant Chief Bill Hewett said the Bellingham Fire Department had 55 calls between 8 a.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday — a 25-percent increase from an average daily load of 44 calls — and seven were fire related, though there was no serious fire damage.
One call at the 2700 block of Lummi Shore Road did involve a "significant leg injury" from a fireworks accident, Hewett said.
The City of Bellingham has banned all consumer fireworks since 2014, and Hewett said that has reduced the number of fireworks-related calls his department has had to answer the past few years.
The number of citations and arrests made by the Bellingham Police Department for violations of the ban was not immediately available, but the department did have the Tweet of Independence Day, using emoji math to remind everyone not to drink and drive and to be safe.
Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks said, "our activity was pretty normal, more like quieter than usual due to the mid-week holiday."