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Officials: Who authorized fireworks that sparked Fort Worth blaze?

FORT WORTH -- Fire department officials were trying to learn on Friday who approved the fire works display late Thursday that sparked a wind-churned grass fire that charred 5 acres in Gateway Park.

The fireworks display followed an exhibition game by the U.S. Olympic softball team. The subsequent fire burned for about an hour on the north end of the city park along Interstate 30 between Beach Street and Oakland Boulevard.

Lt. Kent Worley, a spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department, said Thursday night that a permit had been issued for the fireworks show.

But, he added, "it is not clear who made the final decision tonight to allow the fireworks to take place based on the wind conditions. That is something that will reviewed on Friday."

About 9 p.m. when the Gateway Park fire started, wind was gusting as high as 37 mph at Fort Worth's Meacham Airport, with sustained winds of 29 mph, said Steve Fano, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

"Winds were very strong all around," he said.

It was one of numerous grass and structure fires, along with downed power lines, that kept firefighters and line crews busy all day.

At Spinks Airport, gusts of 31 mph were reported, and Arlington's airport reported gusts as high as 39 mph.

The Olympic softball team was playing the ASA Regional All-Stars in an exhibition as part of its 48-city "Bound 4 Beijing" national tour. Afterward, a fireworks display entertained the crowd.

"It is my best guess that this was caused from the fireworks," said Donald Clark, Fort Worth fire battalion chief. "The wind direction and location of the fire match up pretty good."

Nine fire trucks and 22 firefighters fought the blaze, Clark said. Haltom City firefighters assisted on the north side.

It was brought under control with no injuries or structural damage, Clark said.

Firefighters were to stay until 1 a.m. to ensure that hot spots didn't reignite, he said.

During the day, gusts reached as high as 54 mph, the National Weather Service reported.

"Calls were consistent throughout the day because of the high wind," said Lt. Worley. "It's kept us busy."

Structure fires included a commercial business in the 5000 block of East Lancaster Avenue and a vacant house in the 900 block of East Stella Street.

In Wise County, downed power lines started a fire about 1:30 p.m. about a mile south of Bridgeport Lake, Fire Marshal Paul Cunningham said.

Staff writers Bill Miller and Matt Frazier contributed to this report, which includes material from The Associated Press.

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