As Wise County residents celebrated the United States’ 236th birthday, many of the firefighters found themselves battling grassfires Wednesday evening.
The drying conditions from near triple-digit heat and fireworks combined to set off 26 calls about grassfires to the Wise County Sheriff’s office.
Decatur was one of the busiest departments. Firefighters responded to nine grassfires.
Despite the activity, Decatur Fire Chief Michael Richardson said no structures were damaged and things could have been worse.
“It went pretty well,” he said. “We expected it. It was not as bad as last year. We had about the same amount of calls, but the good thing was the humidity stayed up and it wasn’t as explosively flammable.”
Most of the fires in the county were less than one-half acre and slow-moving. Richardson said fireworks were a likely culprit for most of the fires.
Decatur had extra help on duty for the holiday and brought in more help for the evening that also included five medical emergencies.
The East Wise department was also quite busy on the Fourth, responding to six fires.
“At one time, we had three going,” said East Wise Fire Chief David Plankey. “We were taxed pretty well.
“The humidity level was low enough that a lot of the sparks were setting off fires. We were fortunate it wasn’t lower.”
Plankey said his department’s quick response kep mo
East Wise, Paradise, Rhome, Newark, Boyd and Alvord all responded to grassfires Wednesday evening. A majority of the activity occurred after 8:30 p.m.
‘NO REFUSAL’ RESULTS IN 6 ARRESTS
County Attorney James Stainton reported six arrests through the no refusal program July 3 and 4, a drop from 12 last year.
“This was the first time we did it when it was midweek. Clearly, it was going to be less than if you did it on a weekend,” he said.
Stainton said he also hopes the numbers have dropped because “people are getting the message.”
Last year, no refusal weekend started Friday night, July 1, and ran through the early morning hours of Tuesday, July 5.