West Richland police are investigating a fireworks-started fire that burned about five acres of brush late Monday.
Police and fire officials also are warning residents to use common sense and extra caution when discharging fireworks -- especially in windy conditions.
"People need to remember that there is a risk of fire and they need to prepare for it," Police Chief Brian McElroy said. "If the winds are high, common sense would dictate don't discharge the fireworks."
Tri-Citians were blown around Tuesday with sustained winds of 28 mph. Gusts as high as 40 mph have been recorded at the Tri-Cities Airport in Pasco, according to the National Weather Service in Pendleton.
Winds are supposed to calm down to about 5 mph today, with Fourth of July temperatures expected near 79, the weather service said.
Strong winds fueled the fire that started at 10:15 p.m. Monday at Grant Street along 54th Avenue.
Benton Fire District 4 crews were on the scene for about 21/2 hours. Firefighters were called back to the area about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday for reports of brush smoldering in the same area.
Some old cars set to be restored did sustain some damage from the fire, said Capt. Ed Dunbar. A workshop in the area also was threatened, along with a couple of properties along the fence line, he said.
"Through landscaping efforts, it actually saved his fence by having a fire-wise landscaping," Dunbar said.
Witnesses reported people were setting off fireworks improperly in the middle of the street just before the fire started, he said. That information, along with a license plate number, was passed on to police.
Chief McElroy said officers were following up on some of those leads.
West Richland has one of the most lenient fireworks law in the Tri-Cities, allowing any fireworks the state allows.
They have, however, limited when fireworks can be discharged and banned the use of fireworks in public parks and on school properties.
Bottle rockets, larger missiles, M-80s, firecrackers and improvised or altered fireworks are illegal.
Kennewick, Prosser, Pasco, Connell and Franklin County prohibit the use of fireworks by residents. Richland, Benton City and unincorporated parts of Benton County are regulated to what's considered "safe and sane" fireworks.
Officials say the best way to ensure residents aren't violating the various regulations is to buy fireworks in the city where they'll be set off.
McElroy said the fireworks user also is responsible for making sure the fireworks are being used properly. If it starts a fire and causes damages, they can be liable.
Fire officials say people just need to celebrate Independence Day by using good judgment, being prepared and being smart.
"Have a water source nearby," Capt. Dunbar said. "Don't hesitate to call 911 if there's a problem."