Police discover stockpile of illegal fireworks at Wash. complex

PUYALLUP, Wash. -- Residents at a Puyallup apartment complex were forced to evacuate Thursday night after federal and state law enforcement agents uncovered "a large cache" of fireworks.

Officers and agents from the Puyallup Police Department, the Pierce County sheriff's office, Puyallup Tribal police and the ATF arrived at the River Trail Apartments in the 1600 block of East Main Street Thursday night.

"Several days ago the Puyallup Tribal Police Department received a tip that an individual was selling large amounts of fireworks and possessing large amounts of fireworks," said Capt. Ryan Portmann with the Puyallup Police Department.

That man, who is in his 40s, was traced to the River Trail apartments, Portmann said. When the team arrived Thursday night, they found three large garage units full of fireworks. While some of the fireworks are legal under state law, Portmann said all were illegally stored and the suspect is not licensed to sell them.

Residents in several nearby apartments were evacuated as police removed dozens of boxes of what they describe as "illegal," "dangerous" and "professional grade" fireworks. Some of the boxes were labeled "M85 Tank," "Big Boss Flowers," "Big Bomb" and "Hit Man."

"Had these fireworks ignited, the potential for catastrophe was certainly there," Portmann said.

Neighbor Johnny Gordon was one of people told to leave his apartment.

"I see a bomb squad vehicle, I see Pierce County command center set up and I see three garages full of explosives," he said.

Gordon said it was disturbing to learn about just how close he was living to the fireworks.

"I think there's a lot of negligence on the part of the apartment complex, who probably knew what was going on," he said. "These devices, all this TNT, was being stored less than 30 feet from my home. How do I protect myself against that?"

Officers also seized a computer and other evidence from one of the apartments.

One man was arrested at the scene, and it's unclear if police will make any more arrests in the case.

Police say the fireworks are worth as much as $40,000.