As local residents celebrated the Fourth of July and the weekend preceding it with food and fireworks, the Forsyth County Fire Department was busy responding to calls across the county.
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Fire Chief Jason Shivers told Forsyth County News that there were two residential fires and four brush fires between Friday and Monday, all of which were caused by fireworks.
The first residential blaze occurred Sunday evening when a garage in a home on Stallion Drive in the southwestern part of the county caught fire after a neighbor’s fireworks exploded just outside the garage.
The following day, Independence Day, fireworks exploded outside a home on Andrew Way in northern Forsyth, setting a decorative pine straw border that surrounds the house ablaze. Again, the fireworks that caused the incident are believed to have been set off by a neighbor.
Neither fire led to any injuries, and both homes are reported as still livable.
Although both fires are still under investigation, Chief Shivers says the incidents were complete accidents.
“Our investigators are still working through interviews and working with insurance companies to make final determinations, but we’re confident that neither one of [the fires] were intentionally set,” he said.
It is unknown how much damage each fire caused to the respective homes or how much repairs will cost.
The other four fires occurred in two neighborhoods: three in Polo Fields and one in St. Marlo. All four were minor brush fires started by large firework shows done by the neighborhoods.
The National Fire Protection Association reports that an average of 18,500 fires are started by fireworks every year across the U.S., over a quarter of which occur on the Fourth of July.
Locally, Chief Shivers says that his department has seen an increase in the number of fires caused by fireworks. He believes it is due to a 2015 state law, which allowed Georgians to buy and use fireworks.
In addition, Shivers also blames the dry weather for the increase in fires.
“This year, certainly, it is extremely dry and extremely dangerous,” he said.
“These fires should be a wake up call for homeowners and renters to check the type of home owners insurance policies in place. Fires can destroy the economic health of a family, and families must protect themselves from losing everything. When there is a fire loss it is best to consult with an attorney. Insurance companies often try to avoid responsibility”
– Steven Leibel, a Forsyth County Georgia Superlawyer