Whatcom fireworks cause multiple fires and injuries
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Whatcom fireworks cause multiple fires and injuries

Firecrackers injured multiple people on July 4 in Whatcom County.

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PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham said at least seven people were hospitalized with fireworks-related injuries, and in Whatcom County, fireworks sparked more than a dozen fires over the Fourth of July holiday.

Among the seven emergency room visits was a person who lost three fingers and a thumb while driving on the M80 freeway, said North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Chief Jon Ahrenholz.

The Bellingham Fire Department did not have an exact number of fireworks-related fires in the city, but Capt. Dustin Michalis said there were nearly three times as many calls about fires during the week of July 4 than in an average week. Michalis said the department typically gets about eight calls about fires a week, and last week they got 21.

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“It’s very difficult to say whether they were caused by fireworks without looking at the details of each call,” Michalis said. “I think it’s safe to say that given the increase in fire-related calls, fireworks are a contributing factor.”

In total, police received 82 calls about fireworks between July 3 and July 5. Bellingham Police Department Superintendent Megan Peters told The Herald that Bellingham police did not issue any tickets for illegal use of fireworks in the city.

Peters said that to issue a ticket, officers must find a location, responsible parties and have probable cause. They can also confiscate any fireworks or explosives they find. While there were 82 calls for fireworks, it’s unclear how many of those may have been the same incidents.

The holiday season also saw a surge in impaired driving. Bellingham police reported arresting 14 drivers for DUIs within city limits between July 3 and 5. By comparison, there were 28 DUI arrests in all of June, according to a social media post from the department.

Whatcom fireworks cause multiple fires and injuries

Jack Belcher joined The Bellingham Herald in September 2022 as a climate change reporter. He graduated from Central Washington University in 2020 with a degree in digital journalism and worked as a staff writer at the Ellensburg Daily Record for three years.