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Squirrel, not fireworks, causes fire at Mutiny Bay

Firefighters Eldon Baker and Jon Gabelein spread cooling water on a brush fire near S. Robinson Road in Freeland on Tuesday. - Spencer Webster / The Record
Firefighters Eldon Baker and Jon Gabelein spread cooling water on a brush fire near S. Robinson Road in Freeland on Tuesday.
— image credit: Spencer Webster / The Record

FREELAND — Mutiny Bay area residents heard loud bangs and pops Tuesday afternoon and then the power went out.

Moments later, as smoke began to rise into the air in marshy land near S. Robinson Road, some may have feared fireworks had started a fire.

Within minutes, firefighters from Fire District 3 arrived and began dousing the flames that spread quickly through the dry vegetation.

As firefighters contained the fire, a Puget Sound Energy technician found the source of the sparks that started the blaze. A squirrel had slipped inside an electrical ground vault box a distance away up the road, causing a short circuit.

“It blew out a fuse here on this pole. With the amount of corrosion going on, the leads got hot and threw off sparks and started a fire right below the pole,” said Fire District 3 Deputy Chief Jon Beck. “We could not tell exactly where the fire was when we got here because of all the smoke.”

If the squirrel was hoping to roast a few acorns, it was a bad idea. The animal died in the mishap. The fire burned nearly a ¼ acre of brush before firefighters put it out.

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