Quiet Fourth for police agencies

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Law enforcement and fire agencies may have not had to respond to major incidents on the Fourth of July, but they're bracing for the aftermath with hot, dry weather predicted and more fireworks expected.

State law states that it's illegal to shoot off fireworks after July 5, but more family and neighborhood shows are still expected this weekend since the holiday landed mid-week this year and many residents went to community shows on the Fourth.

"We believe some people have been lulled into the low fire danger mode with the amount of rain we received in June," said Jim Lyon, spokesman for the Northern Lakes Fire District. "Hot and dry temperatures are ahead, so people need to continue to be vigilant about safety."

Coeur d'Alene Police Capt. Steve Childers said his agency didn't have major calls such as fires and injuries on the Fourth, but it stayed plenty busy. There were a total of 473 calls countywide on Wednesday and through 6 a.m. on Thursday. It was 116 more calls than last year.

Coeur d'Alene Police responded to 42 fireworks-related calls. Childers said the number of citations written on the Fourth was unavailable on Thursday.

"We were busy with quite a bit of calls for alcohol, fireworks, fights and missing kids," said Childers, adding that all of the children were accounted for soon after the initial reports. "A lot of it was just busy work."

Childers said there were no reports of fire damage due to fireworks.

"I think the wet weather helped," he said.

The Air One helicopter flew overhead for 15 minutes as the fireworks crowd in downtown Coeur d'Alene dispersed to keep an eye on things from up above.

Childers said police's presence with a building in City Park has come in handy for residents in need during busy days.

"It's a place for people to go with questions," he said.

Post Falls Police Capt. Pat Knight said his agency handled 39 fireworks-related calls from 4:45 p.m. to 2 a.m. Thursday.

"The past couple of years our agency has had a pretty uneventful Fourth and we really enjoy that," Knight said.

He said on Thursday that he was unaware of any fireworks-related citations being issued, although large, illegal fireworks were obviously shot off throughout the entire county.

"We don't get a lot of calls on the large, nice-looking fireworks," he said. "We tend to get the calls on the loud bottle rockets and potential fire hazard stuff."

It's left up to the officer's discretion if a citation should be issued.

"If the patrol officer gets the compliance on the first contact with the individual, then they typically are pleased and will move on to the next call," Knight said. "Sometimes warnings are just as good as issuing a citation."

Childers said some calls are also handled by confiscating the fireworks rather than with a citation.

The Kootenai County Sheriff's Office responded to 17 fireworks-related calls on the Fourth and 134 total calls.

"Overall, for us, it seemed quieter than other Fourths," said KCSO Major Ben Wolfinger. "I imagine this is because of it being in the middle of the week."

Idaho State Police handled six DUIs, seven property damage crashes and one injury crash from 5 p.m. on Tuesday to 4 a.m. on Thursday. The agency issued no citations for illegal fireworks.

Coeur d'Alene Fire responded to three fire calls - two small grass fires and another human-caused fire on Tubbs Hill.

Kootenai County Fire and Rescue and Northern Lakes didn't have any major fire incidents. Northern Lakes' fire boat on Hayden Lake responded to a boat fire in the Honeysuckle Beach area and tree fire off Deep Water Road that was believed to have been started with fireworks, but both were quickly extinguished.

"It was a quieter Fourth than normal for us," Lyon said.

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