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More than one fire show during Red, White & Boom

On the Fourth of July, during the big fireworks display at the Expo, we saw several fire trucks go roaring toward the Expo on Peninger Road. We were watching the fireworks near the Sonic Drive-in, and we could see what appeared to be a fair-sized fire burning in the vicinity of the Expo, and we had ashes falling from the sky all around us. What happened and is there any cause listed?

— Dave, Medford

Thanks for asking, Dave. You’re not the only one who’s been wondering.

While most people were captivated by the fireworks show at the 17th annual Red, White & Boom, others were alert enough to notice another show happening close by.

Early into the show, sparks from aerial fireworks were blown by the wind and landed in dry grass, starting two fires, according to John Patterson, a fire marshal with Jackson County Fire District No. 3.

The two fires were “close in their time of starting and close in distance to each other,” and together they covered about one acre, Patterson said. The fires were behind and to the west of the official launch zone.

Luckily, “units were already nearby, so guys were able to get on the fires, contain them and put them out all very quickly,” Patterson said.

Patterson said the fires may have appeared bigger and more severe than they actually were, because they were “fairly tall, more than they were spread out,” and burned tall bushes and shrubs.

Why didn’t these two fires stop the main show, you might ask?

“We did go and ask the operator why he didn’t stop the fireworks show, and he was actually thinking very reasonably,” Patterson said. “He thought that if the fires were to have spread close to the launch zone, they might light all of the fireworks that hadn’t been launched yet, causing a much bigger hazard.”

The launch zone for the official fireworks show is clear of all vegetation, Patterson said. Still, crews plan to review safety measures and permit operations before the next show.

“Like we say over and over, you have to be so careful with anything that includes fire, or that could start an accidental fire,” he said. “We can’t stress enough that you have to be constantly careful.”

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.