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Fireworks nearly destroy Goshen neighborhood

GOSHEN, Ind. – Ignoring warnings about using fireworks on the Fourth of July during the drought nearly proved disastrous for one Goshen neighborhood.

Sparks from roman candles were blamed for igniting a grass fire that quickly spread over a field behind a row of homes on the 1200-block of Westwood Drive on Wednesday afternoon.

“We were just inside watching TV, my brother-in-law saw some smoke in our neighbor’s backyard,” described Tad Lin, who lives in the neighborhood.  “We just ran out to see what it was; there were flames out in the yard.”

Lin and his neighbors grabbed their garden hoses and went to work trying to put out the flames.

“Just kept trying to put it out, it actually went about 50-yards within less than a minute,” Lin explained.

Within a few minutes Goshen Police arrived to help and firefighters were on their way.

“When we turned the corner we were still a mile away, we saw a large cloud of smoke so I knew we had more than just a simple fire,” described Lt. Craig Hursey of the Goshen Fire Department.  “We called for additional crews.”

Hursey estimated that about two-acres were burned; four homes were threatened by flames that came within inches of houses.

“This started from fireworks, wasn’t close to any buildings but the grass is so dry,” Lt. Hursey explained.  “Respect the no burn, the no fireworks, most of the provisions are that they’ll be a time later when we can do that, for now, with Mother Nature against us, please don’t.”

Lt. Hursey also said that earlier in the day the department had put out a grass fire started by a discarded cigarette and said both fires should serve as a reminder to avoid doing any activity that could spark a fire while conditions are dry.

The Elkhart County Commissioners banned using fireworks in the county due to the drought conditions.  Jay Zheng, 25, and Joe Dorbin, 29, were arrested for allegedly lighting the fireworks that started the fire.  Both are facing charges of Violation of an Emergency Order, a Class B Misdemeanor.

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