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2 fireworks-caused blazes in Ashland

As the rockets were bursting Saturday evening in air over Ashland, firefighters were wincing and hoping that a stray spark didn't start the next blaze in the city's dry vegetation.

Fireworks ignited two blazes on the Fourth of July, but they were put out quickly and didn't do significant damage, said Margueritte Hickman, division chief with Ashland Fire & Rescue.

"It was worse than last year because last year we had no fires caused by fireworks on the Fourth," Hickman said.

Just after 1 p.m. on Saturday, a firework landed in a gutter at a home on Prospect Street, in the hills above Siskiyou Boulevard, according to Ashland Fire & Rescue. Firefighters were called to the scene quickly and put the smoldering blaze out, Hickman said.

"If someone hadn't noticed it so quickly, it would have been devastating," she said.

At about 10:30 p.m., a blaze erupted in a trash can in Garfield Park, after someone placed a hot firework in the can, Hickman said.

Firefighters responded to one other blaze caused by a firework last month. On June 23, a child threw a hot firework and it landed in a combustible juniper bush on Bellview Avenue. That fire was also put out quickly by firefighters.

Ashland Fire Chief John Karns, who took the job last month after moving from Beverly Hills, Calif., told a local TV news station, KDRV-12, on Thursday that he is considering asking the City Council to ban fireworks in Ashland, because of the fire danger they pose.

Hickman confirmed Karns' statement, but Karns could not immediately be reached for comment.

Fireworks were not the only cause of blazes over the weekend. Unattended candles in an apartment near Southern Oregon University started a non-injury fire Sunday afternoon.

Smoke from the fire, which started in a second-story bedroom of a six-unit complex in the 1300 block of Quincy Street, set off the sprinkler system, giving firefighters a head start on dousing the flames, Hickman said.

"The sprinkler system provided initial containment of the fire," said Hickman, adding crews were on site within five minutes.

No one was injured and fire, smoke and water damage was contained to the bedroom in the affected unit. The victim's possessions were waterlogged, but salvageable, she said.

"That would have been an unlikely outcome if there hadn't been a sprinkler system installed," said Hickman.

Meanwhile, Ashland police were kept busy over the holiday weekend with several disorderly conduct, vandalism and drinking-related cases, among others.

At 1:20 a.m. on Sunday, officers found "an apparent manufactured explosive devise attached to a turkey carcass." After calling in the Oregon State Police Bomb Squad, they determined it was a "fake," according to police reports.

The device, found near Iowa and Walker streets, included a large bottle that was wrapped in tape and had a fuse coming out one end.

Further details were not available at press time.

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or hguzik@dailytidings.com.