ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – Fourth of July fireworks went awry when four homes were damaged from two fires in St. Charles County Sunday night and into Monday morning. O’Fallon Fire Protection District Chief Tom Vineyard said three home fires happened around the same time, which damaged five homes in total.
Officials said four of the five house fires were caused by fireworks, it’s not clear the cause of the fifth home damaged.
Since the fires happened all around the same time, it stretched resources “extremely thin,” Vineyard said.
“The Fourth of July night was extremely busy for us, in fact, it was really busy for the entire St. Charles County, multiple structure fires,” he said.
“We had a structure fire around midnight, during that fire there was also a 2-alarm fire in Cottleville (Weldon Spring area) and a 2-alarm fire going on in St. Charles County.”
Fireworks are the cause of the damage to those four homes, according to officials.
A home on Quail Run Lane in St. Charles County caught fire just before midnight Sunday. Fire officials said the homeowners had put fireworks debris in a bag near the garage, and it was still too warm and caught fire, which spread to the neighbor’s home too.
“Make sure that the discard of fireworks are completely out, we recommend that you put them in water, what we don’t recommend is that you put it in your plastic dumpster and you put that up against your home or garage,” Vineyard added.
He said the same advice applies for discarding smoking materials, charcoal, fireplace debris, etc.
Fire crews also responded to Homefield Meadows Drive and found another home up in flames.
“We had an incident on Homefield Meadows Drive where an individual shot a firework into his garage and lit off additional fireworks in his garage,” Vineyard said.
“There were two vehicles in the garage that were completely destroyed, by the time our crews got on scene, the fire was fully involved and the fire had extended to the attic.”
Around the same time, Cottleville Fire Protection District was called to a home on Caliburn Court in the Weldon Spring area for a house fire, but officials have not been able to definitely say if that fire was caused by fireworks.
Vineyard said these scenarios are a fire department’s worst nightmare, but fortunately, no one was hurt in any of the incidents.
“We always say leave the fireworks to the professionals there’s plenty of shows around town and around the county, we really hate to see people lighting off their own fireworks because inevitably accidents are going to happen and things are going to catch on fire, and that’s what happened Sunday evening,” he said.
Vineyard said it is not uncommon, but this was busier than most years.
“It’s not surprising, every Fourth of July we seem to deal with the same issues,” he said. “It’s been a long 18 months with COVID, and last Fourth of July, we didn’t see a whole lot of activity, this year seemed to be definitely ramped up in regards to previous years.”