Two boats damaged on July 4 in Columbia River

Tri-City HeraldJuly 5, 2014 

Two boats were damaged on the Columbia River, while a car that was reported stolen was found on the July 4 holiday.

One boat sank late Friday upstream from Wallula Gap, said Benton County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. John Thompson. The people on the boat were picked up by another boat and taken safely to the Walla Walla Yacht Club in the gap.

Another boat that had come to the Tri-Cities for July 4 festivities, took on water while returning to Hat Rock State Park in Oregon, Thompson said.

“It appears that that the wind picked up and swamped the boat,” he said.

The driver of the boat was able to get it ashore near Ayers Road east of Finley, Thompson said. The six people on the boat, which included one juvenile, were able to get to safety.

A deputy also found a stolen vehicle on bluffs near McNary Dam. Thompson said Michael Randall Phillips and Jennifer Lee Foster were both arrested and face charges for possession of stolen property.

In Kennewick, where fireworks are illegal, at least two people were cited for possessing them. Kennewick Police Sgt. Mike Genack said it can be difficult to catch people who are setting off pyrotechnics.

“Unless you are standing right out front and actually see it fly out of the backyard, it is hard to pinpoint,” he said.

Two small fires apparently related to fireworks were reported in Richland, where some non-aerial fireworks are legal. One was caused by a legal sparkler, while the cause of the other was uncertain.

Benton Fire District 1 worked on one fire in its area, but it was undetermined whether fireworks were involved with causing it, Capt. Devin Helland said. The fire burned between a quarter acre and a half acre near the intersection of Toothaker and Meals roads in Finley. The fire was tough to fight because of Russian olive trees on the property, but firefighters were able to get it under control fairly quickly.

“It was pretty quiet other than that,” Helland said. “It was a night we like.”

Franklin Fire District 3 Chief Mike Harris, who came over from Benton Fire District 1 late last year, said his department didn’t respond to any fires and heard of no other fires in Franklin County on the radio. He said he was used to responding to two or three fires on July 4 in Benton County, and his Fire District 3 colleagues have typically seen more action, as well.

“Talking to some of the crews that have been around on the Fourth, it was quieter than in the past,” Harris said.

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