Witnesses speak on Gulf Shores fireworks fires

GULF SHORES, Ala. (WALA) – Fire officials say some people shooting off fireworks illegally accidentally started a number of brush fires in Gulf Shores.

The two largest fires were on the Fort Morgan Peninsula, and several other smaller ones broke out on West Beach.

Fortunately, no one was injured in the fires, and no buildings were destroyed.

However, one family said they were fearful for much worse outcomes.

Jack Robertson lives only some 50 yards from where the largest fire broke out on Michigan Drive in Fort Morgan. He told FOX10 he was worried his house could have gotten damaged because of the fire.

He said the people allegedly responsible continued to shoot off the fireworks even after the fire started.

“After the fire started they continued to shoot the same fireworks, and even more aggressively,” said Robertson, “The fireworks that they were shooting were four and five at a time, and they were going all different directions, and we got real concerned then, and we asked them to stop. And then, once the police and the fire department got here, they did.”

Once fire officials came out to the Michigan Drive fire, they set what’s called a back fire to prevent a home from catching fire as well. Then that back fire forced the fire in a different direction, allowing it to burn out into the lagoon.

“We actually are fighting fire with fire,” explained Lt. Ron West, with the Gulf Shores Fire Department, “The problem we had was we had a structure that was going to be in the path of the fire, and so what we had to do is make some calculations as far as the humidity, constant wind direction, and with the type of vegetation we had, we decided to do some backfiring. We actually create a new fire line, and what that fire line does is it burns toward the head fire, and it gets the main head fire to where it’s not as intense.”

That’s a technique neighbors are thankful for.

“I’ll have to say that the Gulf Shores Police and Fire Department did a tremendous job, they stayed here until 1:30 in the morning,” said Robertson.

It is illegal to shoot off fireworks in the City of Gulf Shores without a permit. You could face misdemeanor charges and fines for shooting them off.

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