Police, fire report unusually calm Fourth of July

The Fourth of July went off with a muted bang this year in Ashland.

There were no fires to put out, and several police officers were sent home early.

"It was unusually calm," said Matt Freiheit, a fire engineer with Ashland Fire and Rescue. The department expected a bit more activity because the prime fireworks night fell on a Friday, and even double staffed the event, but he said perhaps the cooler weather stopped potential problems.

The risk of fire moved up to high over the weekend, however, he said, and with forecasts for warmer dryer weather, the department has already moved onto the next hurdle of the continuing fire season.

The Ashland Police Department reported a similarly quiet weekend.

"We had stuff that happened over the weekend, but nothing that was Fourth of July-related," said Sergeant Jim Alderman. "The crowds were great, and we didn't have anything major at all. In fact, we even sent officers home early... It was a good weekend."

The Ashland Chamber of Commerce estimated an approximate turnout of 20,000 people for the day, but the numbers this year didn't equate to extra disorder.

"When you have that many people in town, there's bound to be calls for service for us, and this was just unusually slow," Alderman said. "This year we just didn't have the calls."

Alderman surmised the relative quiet might be due to the Medford fireworks display or even the economy, limiting the number of people driving in to watch the show.

Bridge Street, notorious for Fourth of July merrymaking, was also fairly uneventful, he said, following the calmer trend of the past several years. Although officers patrolled the general area, none were assigned to that street specifically, he said.

The biggest incident may have been the lawn chairs thrown into trees 15 to 20 feet high on East Main Street, said Don Robertson, parks and recreation director.

His crews were responsible for cleaning all the city parks, including Lithia Park where most of the day's events occur, along with the school grounds. Although there was no more trash than usual, he said, the bulk of the clean-up was still happening Monday morning.

"We had people working all weekend," he said. "It's just after the fireworks, it takes the full crew a full day to clean everything up."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

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