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Mile 203 Report
September 27, 2022
This dispatch provides details, photos, and my follow ups regarding a house fire on the evening of July 2nd that extensively damaged a vacation home near me on Mile 203.
This dispatch provides details, photos, and my follow ups regarding a house fire on the evening of July 2nd that extensively damaged a vacation home near me on Mile 203. The fire was caused by the use and improper disposal of illegal fireworks by the homeowners, vacationing Boise residents. I requested and recently received the Oregon State Fire Marshal's investigative report for the fire, with my follow ups taking some additional time before submitting this.
Apparent violations: On the evening of July 2nd, aerial fireworks exploded over the beach a block west of my home on Mile 203 in Bayshore, a community of beach homes on small lots among Shore Pines and beach grass on a windy stretch of the central coast. Shortly afterwards, fire erupted at a vacation home on Oceania Drive across the street from me. Local fire units responded, but the damage to the home was extensive. The homeowners, Boise residents, told the state fire investigators that stray aerial fireworks from an unknown source had ignited the blaze. Only when the fire investigators confronted the homeowners with evidence at the scene showing that the fire had been caused by the improper disposal of spent fireworks did the homeowners admit that they had shot off aerial fireworks on the beach and had brought the hot debris back with them, disposing of it behind their house and igniting the fire. We were extremely fortunate that there was virtually no wind that night and because the large box of fireworks the homeowners had brought with them illegally from Idaho had not ignited during the blaze, resulting in a much larger conflagration. I requested and received the Oregon State Fire Marshal's investigative report and photos regarding the fire--36 pages plus 55 photos of fire damage and 34 photos of the Oceania Drive homeowners' unspent illegal fireworks. The report documented that the homeowners had: 1. Brought illegal fireworks into Oregon, including an extensive "Top Gun Pyro Castle" collection (see the attached Fire Marshal's photo), along with an assortment of additional fireworks, a total of 1,248 pyrotechnic items or shots according to the Fire Marshal's inventory. Online advertising for the $131.95 "Pyro Castle" collection boasts that "This assortment has it all! Metal Gear Artillery Shells, multi shot cakes, firecrackers, saturn missiles, barrages, fountains, smoke and more!! You will be the Pyro of your Castle!" 2. The Oceania Drive homeowners shot off illegal aerial fireworks on the beach on the night of 7/2/2022, endangering beachfront properties. The warning label on one of the homeowners' aerial fireworks, "Football Master" (see the attached Fire Marshal's photo), states "WARNING, SHOOTS FLAMING BALLS AND REPORTS . . . PLACE UPRIGHT AND USE ONLY ON CONCRETE, ASPHALT, OR OTHER HARD, LEVEL SURFACE. THIS ITEM MAY TIP OVER IF USED ON GRASS OR OTHER UNEVEN SURFACES AND SERIOUS INJURY COULD RESULT." On the night of July 2nd, shortly before the fire, I saw that the aerial fireworks being shot off on the beach were near the dunes. It doesn't require much imagination to envision one of these items tipping over in soft, uneven sand and shooting flaming balls into the beach grass dunes and beachfront houses. Oregon State Parks has signs posted along Oceania Drive, which parallels the beach, stating that fireworks on the beach are prohibited, and our Bayshore HOA had posted numerous "No Fireworks" signs prior to the holiday weekend. The Oceania Drive homeowners, owners since March, 2021, must have known these prohibitions and yet shot off fireworks on the beach. 3. The Oceania Drive homeowners improperly disposed of their spent fireworks, igniting the fire that severely damaged their home and endangered neighboring homes. 4. The Oceania Drive homeowners attempted to obstruct the Oregon Fire Marshal's investigation by falsely stating that the fire was started by stray fireworks coming from an unknown source and landing on their roof when they knew that they themselves had caused the fire. The above facts from the Fire Marshal's Report were based on evidence at the fire scene and the Oceania Drive homeowners' own admissions. Through their actions, the Oceania Drive homeowners showed disregard for the law and for public safety and neighboring properties. Fireworks on the beach are rare here. Even part-timers and visitors see the signs and respect the prohibitions. Therefore, after I saw aerial fireworks on the beach at 10:02 p.m. on June 19th, the exact same kind of fireworks I would see on the night of July 2nd, I walked down on the beach looking for the fireworks debris but was surprised not to find any. I submitted a dispatch to CoastWatch regarding the illegal fireworks, including an anti-fireworks poster that I also submitted for my HOA's June newsletter. Two weeks later, to the very day and hour, the results caused by this same usage of illegal fireworks came home to roost. I can't emphasize enough how fortunate we all were on a windless night that no one was injured in this fire, that it did not spread, and that the extensive property damage was confined to the Oceania Drive homeowners' vacation home and property. Attached are photographs I have labelled: two photos I took the night of the fire, and a few of the 89 photos taken after the fire by the State Fire Marshal investigators..
Actions & Comments
After reviewing the State Fire Marshal's report, I wrote to the Fire Marshal requesting that the Oceania Drive homeowners be cited and fined and that they be required to pay for the suppression costs of the fire they caused. The homeowners had already surrendered their unspent fireworks for disposal by the Oregon State Police Bomb Unit.Joined by my neighbors from four nearby homes, I also submitted a complaint to our Bayshore HOA, with the suggested resolutions to this issue that (1) The Oceania Drive homeowners be fined in an amount to be determined as sufficient in order to deter similar future actions by them or others; (2) The homeowners be required to attend an educational or mediation program so that they are made to understand the severity of their actions. (3) This matter be publicized so that Bayshore members and rental management firms are made aware of the consequence of such actions.I have not yet received a response to my complaints to the Fire Marshal and HOA. Almost three months after the fire, the burned house has been gutted inside and sits vacant, broken windows covered by plywood.
All Mile 203 Reports
The beach has had substantial washing away of old dunes and washing up of beach grass into the dunes. There were 45 bird carcasses of we believe are Cassin's auklets.
Today I and my two CoastWatch partners conducted a NOAA Marine Debris survey on our 100 meter survey site at Sandpiper Beach, Mile 203. On reaching our marine debris survey site, we saw a lot of Cassin's Auklet carcasses, which COASST calls CAAU, all high up on the beach among the beach vegetation and washed-in sea grass, many carcasses partially covered by sand or vegetation. After we completed our debris survey, I returned to our survey site and began collecting CAAU carcasses in groups of 9, as COASST recommends, ultimately collecting 40 carcasses in 4 full and 1 partial grouping. Below is a link to our Sandpiper Beach NOAA debris survey site where most CAAUs were found, reached by a boardwalk that enters the beach midway in the debris survey site. COASST defines a "wreck" as more than 20 beached individuals of one species per kilometer, and a "MME" (Massive Mortality Event) as a spike of up to hundreds of carcasses per kilometer. We also found a beached Northern Fulmar and what is I believe was either a female Gadwall or White-winged Scoter, which I took note of but didn't measure or report on to COASST. I submitted documentation with photos of the CAAU beaching event to COASST, and COASST responded that they had received reports of CAAU beachings from Southern Oregon sites like Coquille Point and Cape Blanco but also as far north as Manzanita. All this sounds very dry, but it was really sad to see and handle all these beautiful little dead birds and wonder if this is completely natural or if climate change, and perhaps a decline of prey species making these birds more vulnerable, factors into these mortality events. https://mdmap.
The storms and rain caused some beach washout from the ocean and from the land.
Last year at this time, Jesse Jones helped us set up a 100 meter NOAA marine debris survey site on Mile 204, which we later moved to Sandpiper Beach on Mile 203.
After observing 8 snowy plovers on Mile 200 yesterday, I wanted to check up on the plovers on Mile 203.