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Fireworks threaten Polson homes

POLSON — Fireworks caused a 5.5-acre fire near Polson hill on July 31 at about 7:30 p.m. 

With 10 to 20-foot-high flames subsiding to a five to six foot blaze, the fire burned up the dry grassy hill, but was stopped when it reached Long Lake Drive.

Law enforcement had contacted residents in the development and told them if the fire jumped Long Lake Drive, they should be ready to evacuate. 

Polson Fire Chief John Ed Fairchild said the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Division of Fire, Ronan Fire Department and Finley Point Fire Department joined the Polson department in fighting the blaze.

Fairchild said firefighters attacked the fire from the top down and had to drag a lot of hose into rough areas. 

With flames as high as they were, Karen Sargeant, Polson Fire Department public information officer, said they couldn’t put them out with a flapper — a firefighting tool with a long handle and a “flapper” about a foot and a half long made of rubber or some other fireproof material. The tool is dragged over the flames to put out a blaze.

Both Sargeant and Fairchild mentioned the bunch grass in the area, which burned hot and turned into a glowing orb.

No residents or firefighters were injured, but Fairchild said, “My biggest concern is fireworks endangered the lives of many people.”

He cautioned against fireworks, and Sargeant seconded this, saying shooting fireworks off in the Polson city limits is illegal now. Six fires in Polson have been fireworks-caused since the Fourth of July, according to Fairchild.

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