The house fire in Donaldson Run that occurred on the night of July 4 was caused by discarded fireworks left in the garage, fire department officials say.
The fire caused a significant amount of damage and it highlighted the danger of unsafe firework usage. Over the Independence Day weekend, the sound of consumer fireworks could be heard all over Arlington. Despite the patriotic connotation, many Arlington residents have come to view the fireworks as more of a nuisance or safety hazard than a spectacle.
“The fire marshal did follow up on a number of complaints from neighbors that they heard fireworks, they saw fireworks that are illegal in the county,” said Arlington County Fire Department spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Marchegiani.
Although certain fireworks are legal under Virginia law, that only applies non-explosive fireworks such as sparklers and cone fountains. Any projectiles that fly up over 12 feet are also prohibited, in addition to firecrackers or other exploding fireworks.
Someone caught using illegal fireworks in Arlington could face jail time and/or a fine of up to $2,500, Marchegiani said.
This past weekend, four notices of violation were issued due to illegal usage of fireworks, according to Marchegianai. Despite the fire department adding additional staff to patrol local neighborhoods, oftentimes by the time they respond to a call, the displays are over.
“It’s more than we can handle,” she said.
When it comes to fireworks, Marchegiani recommends that residents take precautions to ensure their safe usage.
“Even legal fireworks can be dangerous, they can cause burns or eye injuries and they’re also a fire hazard,” she said. “When you ignite fireworks, you want to make sure you wear them down completely, put them in a bucket of water, make sure they’re cool and extinguished completely. Its a similar idea to when you’re smoking, make sure the butt’s out completely.”
This year, there were no reported injuries caused by fireworks.