Assistant chief witnessed rocket explode in home
BLYTHEVILLE, Ark. – Fireworks were responsible for most of the light in the sky on the night of July 4th. Unfortunately, that included a fully-involved house fire that was triggered by civilians shooting off fireworks, the assistant police chief of Blytheville told NEA Report.
No one was injured, Blytheville Fire Department reported.
Photos courtesy of Attorney Zach Morrison showed the large two-story home fully engulfed in flames as firefighters hopelessly battled the fire. His photos and video were posted at 10:46 PM. The vacant structure had been empty for several years.
The fire is still under investigation but BPD Assistant Chief Ricky Jefferson said he believed he already knew what ignited the blaze – fireworks.
“I believe it was,” Jefferson said. “When I hit that corner, I saw one of those green rockets go in there. It looked like it came from a distance across several yards. It went directly into the windows of one of the abandoned structures.”
After the rocket entered the home, it exploded with green sparks. Jefferson was driving by as he saw the entire incident unfold. It was only a few seconds after until he saw the fire begin.
“As soon as it happened, it just went up,” Jefferson said. “In less than five minutes it was almost fully involved.”
Blytheville fire crews arrived in minutes but the home was already burning beyond control. Jefferson said he was told the home, at one point in time, had automotive chemicals stored in it. Although they don’t yet know if the chemicals were still in the home, this could have contributed to the speed at which the fire spread.
Before crews could manage it, a second home caught fire Thursday night in Blytheville. It was a long night for fire crews, one firefighter told me.
Both cases are under investigation.
“One of them, we can kind of conclude that fireworks initiated it, among no telling what else was in that abandoned structure,” Jefferson said.
Like many communities, Blytheville has an ordinance against the shooting of fireworks within the city limits. Ordinance 87 was put into effect around 1905, Jefferson said. In short, it prohibits fireworks from being shot off by civilians without a special permit. A number of citations were issued Thursday night in Blytheville for violations of the ordinance, the assistant chief said.
The city did have a public fireworks show Thursday night but it was almost an hour and a half before the fire broke out at the abandoned home on West Main Street. Jefferson said it was also on the other side of town. He said the fire had to be caused by a civilian. It could not have come from the long-concluded public show.
“We wish the citizens would not use fireworks inside of the city limits – regardless of how many citations we issue for them,” Jefferson said. “We issued quite a few last night but we can’t get them all. But the ones we catch, we will. But if they’re going to purchase them, use them outside of the city limits away from houses and structures that way nothing gets caught on fire.”