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Prevent Wildfires: Choose the Right Site for Fireworks

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause nearly 18,500 fires annually, including the giant Eagle Creek fire in Oregon last year that ended up destroying 48,000 acres. (U.S. Forest Service)
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks cause nearly 18,500 fires annually, including the giant Eagle Creek fire in Oregon last year that ended up destroying 48,000 acres. (U.S. Forest Service)
July 3, 2018

LANSING, Mich. – The risk of wildfire started by fireworks is higher than normal this Fourth of July because of the recent hot, dry weather. The heat is drying out vegetation, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The agency is asking people to take extra precautions, especially in the northern part of the state on the lake shores.

Paul Rogers, a fire prevention specialist with the DNR, says dune grass may look green and healthy - but looks can be deceiving.

"Dune grass will be very green, but the grass underneath will be very dry; and it'll be the grass left from last year that hasn't decayed away yet, that dries right away," he explains. "And when we reach these kinds of temperatures, even though the grass looks green, it will still burn."

Last year, a teenager in Oregon tossed fireworks into a canyon and started a 48,000-acre blaze. Last month, a Michigan resident using fireworks accidentally started a blaze at Tunnel Park in Holland, near the site of a 2015 incident that destroyed a set of stairs going to the beach.

Rogers says a few years ago, Michigan loosened up its fireworks rules. Now, all types are allowed - but must be handled with extreme care.

"If you have sparklers, anything handheld, make sure it's put into a bucket of water," he adds. "And then check the area, don't light them off into open fields or into woodlots - that could be very dangerous, because it could start a forest fire that way."

National statistics show fireworks killed eight people across the U.S. injured nearly 13,000 and sparked more than 18,000 fires last year.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MI