Parris Shepard, owner of Belfair Truck & Auto Wrecking in Belfair, Washington was target shooting with his daughter, trying out a new rifle, around 1 a.m. on Monday when a stray bullet set off a cargo container of fireworks stored on the property.
According to firefighters several mortars ignited which set off multiple explosions.
"You wouldn't believe the crater in the earth here from the magazine of fireworks. It woke my wife up - she thought we were having an earthquake," said a county fire investigator.
The fire chief noted that the container holding the fireworks "blew right off its foundation - in fact it rolled twice."
Fireworks hit junk cars sparking spot fires throughout the property, and a mountain of old tires was set ablaze. A heavy-duty excavator was needed to clear debris and tires so firefighters could get to the flames, which took crews five hours to douse.
The fireworks were intended for Fourth of July shows in Poulsbo and Bainbridge. Organizers hope to be able to replace most of the fireworks in time for the celebrations next week.
Investigators say the parties involved lacked the necessary county permit to store the fireworks at the Truck & Auto Wrecking company. The owner of the commercial fireworks obtained the federal permit to import the fireworks and the state permit to store the fireworks but the county permit was missing. According to the county fire inspector the missing local permit determines placement of the explosives on the property. "We issue a permit for the amount of fireworks, the type of container, the setbacks and signage. The type of fireworks dictates the type of container."
Depending on the results of the investigation the county might seek action against either the property owner or the owner of the fireworks.