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Denver metro firefighters battled multiple Fourth of July fireworks-related fires

aurora fire july 4 2022
Posted at 4:49 PM, Jul 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-05 19:25:20-04

ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. — Firefighters across the Denver metro had a busy Fourth of July.

"There was pretty much just a disregard as far as fireworks laws went and as far as just, generally, the safety of everybody went," said South Metro Fire Rescue public information officer Eric Hurst Tuesday.

Most notably, South Metro and Aurora firefighters battled a 3- to 5-acre brush fire in the open space near S. Himalaya Way in unincorporated Arapahoe County Monday evening, even as fireworks lit the sky around them.

"On one side of the street, we had families evacuating their homes, children crying, grabbing pets, thinking maybe they weren't ever going to see their house again. And on the other side of the street, we have people that are shooting off illegal fireworks into the air," Hurst said.

LaVon Scheitler and her children were one of the dozen or so families who had to evacuate. She took a photo of the flames as they raced toward homes.

"I grabbed my kids, my cat and some pictures, and we left as fast as we could," she said. "My 6-year-old was terrified, so I was just trying to get my kids out of there as fast as I could."

The wind eventually pushed the fire away from homes, and firefighters were able to put it out. But the brush fire, believed to have been started by fireworks, could have had an entirely different outcome.

"Had the wind from that thunderstorm been pushing the fire towards those houses, there's a high probability we would have had damage to structures or complete loss of structures," Hurst said.

West Metro firefighters were also busy, battling at least 17 fireworks-related fires in grass, cars and dumpsters.

"(There were) illegal fireworks causing embers, getting in grass or the bed of a truck or dumpster," said Assistant Chief Steve Kornegay.

He said he hopes what happened Monday evening serves as a reminder of the dangers of using illegal fireworks, especially in dry conditions.

"You look at the Marshall Fire and the damage that it did and then South Metro's (brush fire) yesterday, and things are ready to burn right now, and fireworks can certainly cause that," Kornegay said.

Scheitler said she hopes those looking to have a good time at the next big holiday celebration are more considerate of the people around them.

"I was really disappointed, especially when we got home after the evacuation was lifted and my 6-year-old pointed out, 'Why are they still lighting fireworks when there's a fire? Do they not know about the fire? Can we tell them so they can stop?'" she said. "It was really sad, to be honest."