Ignites in Kitsap County in 2022, but no specific reason why

For Jenne and Tom Dean, the 4th of July weekend was supposed to be a relaxing time to barbecue and spend time with family.

But that relaxation turned to panic when they learned their house was burning.

Their daughter, Bella Williams, 15, was the first to hear the news on July 2. A neighbor called Williams after receiving an alert via a mobile app indicating a fire at their address.

The family rushed to their Port Orchard home and were faced with a blocked road outside their home. They witnessed the flames engulf their home.

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A Ring security camera on the porch captured the real-life event of the fire: A recording played the sounds of fireworks and showed images of the resulting smoke, Tom Dean said. The Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed the cause of the fire was fireworks.

“What wasn’t damaged by fire was damaged by smoke and water,” said Tom Dean.

Firefighters punched holes in the wall of the girls’ bedroom and poured water inside the gap to put out the fire. All the stuff inside became damp and moldy, added Jenne Dean.

The family – which includes Mia Dean, 17, Tegan Dean, 7, Williams and two dogs – now live in a camper van purchased and parked on the property after the fire.

Reconstruction is still a long way off.

First they have to demolish the house. Then, Deans must apply for a home loan, secure financing, and choose plans — all before construction can even begin.

Deans estimate that it will be a year or more before they leave the motorhome and return to a house.

More fires in 2022

The Dean family aren’t the only ones working to rebuild their lives after a devastating fire. As of July 31, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office has recorded 97 fire investigations, according to data from the Kitsap County Community Development Department.

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The number of fire investigations at the end of July exceeded the number of fires documented by the bureau from January to July 2021 as well as the same period dating back to 2017.

In 2021, there were 92 fires at the end of July. From 2017 to 2020, the cumulative number through July of those years ranged from 56 to 83 fire investigations.

As of July 31, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal's Office had investigated 97 fires, which is the highest number compared to those documented in the same time period - January through July - since 2017.

County officials said they don’t know how to explain the increase this year other than population growth in the area.

“I just don’t know,” Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam said. “I don’t know why we have so many this year compared to other years…”

“If I knew, I would do something,” he said.

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The top two causes recorded by the Office of the Fire Marshal this year are equipment failure (for example, a broken bread maker or bathroom fan) and combustibles too close to heat sources (flammable items stored in front of a woodstove, radiator or heat lamp), Lynam said.

But there are other causes: “It could be electrical, you know, whether it’s water getting into the electrical panel or just completely overloaded circuits,” Lynam said.

FILE - A house on Taylor Street in Port Orchard caught fire on August 2.  The number of fires is on track to be the highest in the five-year period, but fire officials say they cannot determine why other than because of population growth in the area.

For commercial fires, in some cases arson is to blame, he said. In other cases, restaurants have not done the required maintenance.

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue conducted 39 fire investigations from January through July 31, 2022, which is the highest number compared to other fire districts in Kitsap County, according to data received from the county, city of Bremerton Marshal’s Office and the Bainbridge Island Fire. Department.

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue has had the most fire investigations compared to other fire districts in Kitsap County since 2017. It is the fire district that covers the largest geographic area in Kitsap County.

South Kitsap Fire Chief Jeff Faucett said he wasn’t surprised by the number because South Kitsap is the largest fire agency in Kitsap County and responds to more than 12,000 calls each year. , did he declare.

Faucett could not identify any correlation or trend in the increase in the number of fires and also pointed to population growth in the area. Port Orchard’s population grew 29% between 2010 and 2019, according to the Washington State Office of Financial Management.

“The only trend that we know of is that we have more people living in our community and we have more calls. And naturally when more calls come in…that number, you’d expect, is going to go up,” said Faucett.

“The more the number of calls increases, the more the number of fires increases.”

SKFR has seen a 47.5% increase in 911 call volume over the past 10 years. It has seen a 10% increase in calls in 2021 compared to 2020 and so far in 2022 the agency has received 5.5% more calls than in 2021, Faucett said.

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South Kitsap Fire and Rescue is asking voters in November for a waiver of the charge cap, which would restore the fire charge to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value. The money raised would increase the agency’s daily staffing by eight firefighters over five years, with the goal of reducing SKFR’s response times, Faucett said. The Poulsbo Fire Department will offer a similar measure to voters in November.

The average wait time from someone calling 911 to firefighters arriving at the scene of a fire ranges from 8 minutes for urban areas (such as downtown Port Orchard) to 14 minutes for rural South Kitsap, Faucett said.

“Demoralizing” to witness the damage of a fire

It has been eight months since a grease fire destroyed Puerto Vallarta’s kitchen in Port Orchard on Jan. 22. A food truck outside the building serves some of the restaurant’s Mexican dishes, but the restaurant is still repairing the building and is a few months away from reopening the site.

The cause of the fire was determined to be ignition of grease buildup as a result of improper maintenance and delayed cleaning in the restaurant’s kitchen, according to the County Fire Marshal’s Office. Kitsap.

The smoke also damaged the interior of the restaurant, including the dining room, where many items had to be replaced or cleaned, Puerto Vallarta owner Sergio Andrade said.

“There’s no kitchen at the moment. We had to remove all the equipment and everything. Our hood system is gone, so we’re basically a room with walls. That’s all for now,” Andrade said.

It’s hard for Andrade to walk into the restaurant without recognizing what it was, he said.

“It’s very hard, very difficult to walk and very demoralizing to walk into your restaurant…and it’s nothing like what it should be like,” Andrade said. “But again, it’s a process and we go through it.”

Construction to repair the restaurant is expected to be completed in December, and Andrade said he hopes the restaurant will reopen by then.


The Dean family stayed in a hotel for the first three nights after the fire and camped in a tent next to their burned house for two weeks before purchasing the motorhome.

Now they cook outside their motorhome with their barbecue equipment. They tried to raise money to put up a carport so they could stay dry and continue cooking outside all winter, Jenne Dean said.

The family have received help from friends and the community and are grateful for the donations they have received – clean water, food and coolers, and money through a GoFundMe page set up by their friend.

Williams, currently a sophomore at South Kitsap High School who plays football, said she was trying to focus on sports but was distracted by the devastation of the fire.

“It’s not easy to live next door,” she said.

Tom Dean is convinced that fireworks should not be allowed in residential areas.

“If I had known this was going to happen, I would have put a sprinkler on my roof or something and kept my house moist… but you don’t think about it. And then people turn on lights. fireworks. They don’t.” don’t think about where they’re going,” he said.

Deans urged homeowners to check and update their home insurance once or twice a year – every time they remodel their homes or make a major new purchase.

“Make sure your insurance says full replacement,” advised Jenne.

Contact breaking news reporter Peiyu Lin at [email protected] or on Twitter @peiyulintw.

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