Play it SAFE and play it SMART
Fellows, I debated about whether to post this in the Safety Forum but decided it would have more visibility here. The incident actually took place the night of Independence Day, but we were leaving for a week away from home the morning after....so this story is late.
One of my neighbors is a fun loving law enforcement officer who enjoys the racket of large fireworks, and last year he inquired if he could set some off at the end of my property, about 800 feet back from our houses. The result was a fantastic 20 minute show, that was a grand finale to the numerous yard parties in our neighborhood. So when he asked if he could repeat the experience this year, I had no reservations. It's been a little dry around mid-Michigan for this month, but we took back over 100 gallons of water and I had a hose primed and ready within 400 feet of the ignition site. The fireworks were going to be set off in an area that was very green, with one exception....my brushpile, that had been growing for 8 years, and was a heaped stack 35 feet long, 20 feet wide, and 9 feet high.
Is anyone beginning to realize where this is leading?
As it grew dark, everyone was waiting for the first overhead burst of light and sound, and our deck was full of watchers. As the first firework went up and exploded, I yelled to my wife:''"HEY GET OUT HERE AND SEE THIS"...and as the crew ignited the second or third firework, it fell over and ignited the one next to it, creating a chain reaction that consumed nearly three-quarters of a $1600 stash of very powerful fireworks in a 45 second period. WHAT A SHOW!!! But my friend and I took off running, each of us armed with a heavy duty industrial sized fire extinguisher, and with the two of us and the four crew members bailing out the water, we subdued all the grass fires and related burning debris. After refilling the two 50 gallon drums of water, we set off the remaining quarter of the fireworks, then stayed around to be sure nothing was burning.
Back up to the houses, and we were refilling the water containers to go back and check one more time, we swilled beer and congratulated ourselves for our fire fighting ability and gave thanks nobody had been injured. Just before we started up the ATV and trailer, everyone seemed to see my brushpile burst into flames. An unseen spark had been left to smolder and while we were away, it ignited in a fire the size of a grocery bag that grew into the size of a refrigerator in the 30 seconds it took to get the ATV with the 50 gallons of water back there....three year old dry pine needles ignite FAST.
The neighborhood rallied with hoses, shovels, a bucket brigade, more fire extinguishers and courage, but the pile was half burnt within 15 minutes and was 3/4 gone before the first township firetruck arrived. I was hoping they would let it burn itself out but it wasn't my call. The local fire chief asked who was responsible for the ignition, and he had no reason to ask WHY it had started. My neighbor spoke up "I'm responsible" and this man owns the property but had nothing to do with the fire...the chief turns to me and asked may I have your name Mr......? "BURNS" was my reply, and the group of policemen, fire fighters, and neighbors broke up laughing.
Look on the bright side, nobody was injured, I learned what great neighbors we have around here, they will have a story to tell and retell in the future, and I had been wanting to burn that darn brushpile for 9 years....my wife kept telling me: "Think of all the wildlife that live there". Well, there was enough wildlife the night of Independence Day to keep me happy for quite a while into the future.
Allow illegal fireworks on my property? NEVER AGAIN !!!
Play it SAFE and SMART and learn from this experience like we did.
Re: Play it SAFE and play it SMART
I am glad no one was hurt. That is the most important thing. I have heard of people losing body parts from illegal fireworks.
Is the law enforcement officer's job in jeopardy? I don't think the government really takes kindly to their own officer's violating the law.
The neighbor behind me likes to do a similar thing for New Years. It is also illegal to shoot off fireworks here in Arizona. I personally dislike my neighbor's doing this for 2 reasons. One, Arizona is really, really dry and the big reason is it drives my Arabian berzerk. It take about 3 days for her to calm down after these New Year blasts.
Again, I am truly glad no one was injured.