Hot-air device and fireworks blamed for rash of New Year’s fires

Fire fighters had to handle five structural fires in the waning hours of 2014 and early Thursday. A hot-air globe got the blame for one blaze, and fireworks were blamed for the others.

In addition, fire fighters had to handle nine field fires, a gas leak, a vehicle fire and a short circuit, they reported.

The globe got the blame for a blaze reported at 12:14 a.m. Thursday.  Héctor Chaves, director of the Cuerpo de Bomberos, had been making public statements earlier in the week about these paper hot-air devices.

In Purral de Goicoechea, neighbors saw what probably was a globe landing on one of two homes that were destroyed. A third home suffered significant damage, fire fighters said. That left seven adults and two youngsters homeless, they added.

Chaves said later that the fire agency would seek to have these hot air devices made illegal. He said the big problem is that once launched, there is no control on where they go.

At 11:44 p.m. Wednesday fire fighters said some form of fireworks got into the second floor bedroom of a home in Guararí. The stray explosive landed in a basket of clothing, but the blaze was extinguished before it could spread.

At 12:23 a.m. Thursday fire fighters said some form of fireworks got into a bedroom window of a home in Santa Bárbara de Higuito de Desamparados, The intruding device ignited curtains, and about 10 percent of the home suffered damage, said fire fighters. No one was home, but neighbors spotted the fire, they said.

At 12:31 a.m. Thursday another explosive firework got into a storage area in a home in La Fortunita,  Gravilias de Desamparados. Paper and other items ignited, and about 60 percent of the home suffered heavy damage, said fire fighters.
Also in Purral de Goicoechea at 1:02 a.m. Thursday two homes and a shop suffered damage as well as three vehicles, the fire agency said. About half the shop was destroyed.

Fire investigators said they collected remains of fireworks on streets near the blazes. There also was similar evidence found on the roof of the shop in Purral, they said.

Such fireworks are illegal because they explode. But that did not stop thousands of Central Valley residents from launching all sorts of rockets at the beginning of the new year early Thursday.

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