Criminal probe unlikely in fireworks-caused brush fire near Lake Sutherland

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

LAKE SUTHERLAND — Illegal fireworks caused a brush fire that burned about an acre of logging slash Friday morning just west of Lake Sutherland, fire officials said, but an investigation into criminal activity isn't likely.

“Unless we can find who the subjects were, [we] weren't going to pursue it any further,” said Chief Sam Phillips of Clallam County Fire District No. 2.

The fire on land owned by the state Department of Natural Resources had been contained about three hours after it was first reported, Phillips said.

No one was hurt. No structures were damaged.

Fire crews from several agencies responded to the 6:24 a.m. report of the fire burning along the slope off Fisher Cove Road about a half-mile west of Lake Sutherland, Phillips said.

Firefighters found 3-foot flames and heavy smoke visible from the road about 200 yards away, Phillips said.

Crews contained the fire by 9 a.m. Friday, Phillips said, adding that no flare-ups were reported overnight or on Saturday.

Firefighters found several kinds of illegal fireworks, both spent and unspent, at the source of fire, Phillips said. The fireworks included about 40 spent mortar shells.

Crews suspect the fireworks had not been fully extinguished the night before, Phillips said.

Phillips said if anyone were found to be responsible they could be held liable for the roughly $10,000 in fire suppression costs Phillips estimated were spent on the fire in addition to any criminal citations.

Some 24 firefighters from Fire District 2, the state Department of Natural Resources, Olympic National Park and Clallam County Fire District No. 4 responded with multiple brush fire engines and water tenders.

Firefighters had to deal with large boulders rolling down the steep slope because the logs that had held them in place burned, Phillips said.

“It [was] very dangerous for us. There were lots of rocks and rolling debris,” Phillips said.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: July 05. 2014 11:50PM
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