The coming of the Fourth of July heralds, among other things, fireworks and increasingly dry conditions—a potentially dangerous combination. The dry, breezy weather conditions have prompted Geneva Fire Marshal Jerry Koster to urge extra caution this year.
“The use of fireworks by individuals risks injury to the user and onlookers as well as well as posing a fire hazard for surrounding structures,” Koster said. “This year’s extremely dry conditions elevate the risk that even small sparks created by consumer fireworks can lead to grass and brush fires, which can rapidly spread—posing a risk of brush and structure fires.
"The department has responded to many incidents of burning brush, grass and mulch in the last several weeks. In almost all cases the source of ignition was traced to a spark or heat from a discarded cigarette."
Data from the National Fire Protection Association proves this is not a hollow warning. The association’s findings show far more fires are reported nationwide on a typical Independence Day than on any other day of the year, with fireworks accounting for more than half of those fires.
Specifically, the group found fireworks caused an estimated 15,500 reported fires in 2010, including 1,100 total structure fires, 300 vehicle fires and 14,100 outside and other fires. Those blazes resulted in eight reported deaths, 60 injuries and about $36 million in direct property damage.
The safe alternative to handling fireworks Koster suggests, is attending a public display.
“The most exciting and entertaining fireworks displays are always at large public shows,” he said.