Illegal Fireworks Blamed for Santa Cruz Fire

A fire believed sparked by illegal fireworks Friday night destroyed three vehicles and threatened several homes, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

About 9:45 p.m., firefighters from Santa Cruz Fire and Central Fire were dispatched to the 300 block of First Avenue near Marine Parade in Santa Cruz for a report of a large fire in a tree that threatened nearby houses, Santa Cruz Battalion Chief Jason Hajduk said. When firefighters arrived, they found the tree as well as several cars on fire. There were also live power lines that had burnt through and fallen to the ground, threatening residents and firefighters, Hajduk said.

Because the downed power lines were had voltage running through them, firefighters could not fight the flames until PG&E confirmed the power was shut off, Hajduk said.

The policy of the fire department is to “treat live wires as being an immediate live threat and we basically isolate the area and deny entry until we can get them de-engergized,” Hajduk said.

After evacuating homes on First Avenue between Marine Parade and Atlantic Avenue, firefighters set up a perimeter to stop people from entering the area. PG&E crews arrived an hour later to shut off the power to the lines, Hajduk said.

While waiting for the power to shut off, the fire dropped embers and burning branches into the interior of a nearby convertible car with its top down. The vehicle eventually caught fire and spread to two other vehicles, Hajduk said.

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