Driftwood blaze the result of unattended beach fire, official says

An unattended beach fire got out of control at Admiralty Heights on Sunday, igniting a large section of driftwood and prompting shoreline residents to tackle the blaze with garden hoses.

According to Mike Cotton, deputy chief of South Whidbey Fire/EMS, the fire was reported at about 5 a.m. and firefighters arrived at an Ebb Tide Lane home to find property owners working to extinguish a burning 20-foot by 30-foot section of driftwood and grass.

“They recognized they weren’t doing so well, and needed some assistance,” Cotton said. “The fire really needed some extra gallonage to put it out. But, they were keeping it in check.”

The fire was reportedly the result of a “pretty sizable” beach bonfire the previous evening. The residents allegedly went to bed without extinguishing the fire. The wind picked up, said Cotton, and likely sent sparks toward the driftwood line at the high-water mark.

The fire was discovered by a neighbor who woke up to the sound of “popping” from burning wood. He frantically roused the people in the house in front of the fire and they worked together to douse the flames.

The fire department arrived a short time later and fully extinguished the blaze. Cotton said the only damage was to a small wooden walkway that bridged the shoreline home and the beach, but warned that it could have been worse had the wind shifted or picked up even further and carried embers to the beach cabins nearby.

“The moral of the story is make sure your fire is put out before you go to bed,” he said.

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