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Poulsbo, North Kitsap fire crews all fired up

The number of brush blazes and fireworks-related incidents over the holiday weekend set records for both fire districts in North Kitsap. Blazes included a roof fire at the Fjord Drive home of North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen.

Fireworks are the suspected culprit.

Endresen credited Keyport resident Tim Alkire with saving her family’s life.

Alkire was driving home from his graveyard shift at Bangor at about 4 a.m. Friday when he noticed that the Endresen’s roof was on fire.

Alkire called 911 and banged on the house door, waking Endresen’s son, who woke the rest of the family. Members were able to get outside safely, Endresen said, noting that they soon discovered the fire was on the garage’s roof.

“We were lucky it didn’t go in the house,” she remarked.

The Poulsbo Police Department was the first to arrive on the scene and attempted to extinguish the exterior flames with a garden hose before Poulsbo Fire Department crews fully doused the fire with their compression foam system.

The blaze had burned through the shaker roof and into the ceiling of the garage below, PFD Operations Chief Jeff Cowan said.

Fire officials suspect that fireworks were the cause, Endresen said, noting that her family had heard loud fireworks earlier in the night.

Cowan said fire crews had fought several brush fires earlier in the evening in that neighborhood and had just returned to the station when they received the call for the Endresens’ house. He credited Alkire’s response to making sure the incident was quickly resolved.

“If (Alkire) hadn’t seen and taken note of it, it could have been terrible,” Cowan said.

The house fire was one of many blazes that kept fire crews busier than ever, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue Public Information Officer Michéle Laboda said Monday. Both NKF&R and PFD responded to nearly 60 calls in the 24-hour period between 8 a.m. July 4 and 8 a.m. July 5.

Cowan said there was a 300 percent increase in calls for PFD on July 3 with 25 calls.

Another major incident included the discovery of a pipe bomb on “the slab” in downtown Suquamish on the afternoon of July 5, said Lt. Frank Girardin of the Suquamish Tribal Police.

The device was removed by the Task Force Bomb Disposal Unit from Bremerton and detonated in a nearby housing development that is under construction on Angeline Avenue. Residents were cleared out of the area and the fireworks stands in the area were shut down for several hours.

“It would have done some damage if it was (detonated) down there,” Girardin said.

Other weekend incidents included: an arson fire on the Jefferson Beach Dock caused by a fire ignited from a three-foot by three-foot pile of fireworks near the dock stairs; a security officer in Indianola who fell 30 feet down a steep bluff after trying to extinguish a brush fire off Shore Drive; and a man who was injured after a spark from another firework ignited the several that were inside his pant pockets. Another man was transported with injuries to the face after being struck with a bottle-rocket; and a 12-year-old girl sustained serious injuries when she was hit in the eye by a bottle rocket.

Brush fires included a 30-foot by 30-foot area near the Eglon Boat Launch and a 50-foot by 30-foot fire in the woods near Orseth Road by Port Gamble-Suquamish Road.

“The biggest frustration for us is that nearly all of these incidents could so easily have been prevented,” said NKF&R Assistant Chief Dan Smith, who acted as duty chief for both districts on July 4. “Are private fireworks displays really worth all this?”

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