Fire officials urge caution with fireworks, sparklers

fireworksWhile legal fireworks and sparklers are a popular part of July 4th celebrations, in most areas of Virginia they could become a cause of wildfires this year.

“One spark is all it would take for a wildfire to start,” said Fred Turck, assistant director for wildfire prevention and education with the Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF). “Fireworks that have finished burning are still extremely hot, and they can smolder in dry grass or leaves before a fire ignites.”

Turck recommends keeping a bucket of water, wet towel and a fully-charged garden hose nearby. Children and pets should also be kept a safe distance away from igniting and spent fireworks.

Forestry officials indicate that it’s not just cities’ and towns’ pyrotechnic shows that pose a threat. Personal use of fireworks, cookouts and bonfires that are popular during the holiday could start fires that would spread rapidly in the dry conditions.

The VDOF recommends following these safety tips:

  • Buy from reliable fireworks sellers and use only those that are legal for use in Virginia and your locality.
  • To detonate fireworks, find a flat surface, away from buildings, dry leaves and grass.
  • Have water, a rake and shovel on hand in case of a fire.
  • Insist on adult supervision when buying or setting off fireworks.
  • Read and follow label directions, warnings and instructions.
  • Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never try to re-light fireworks that have not detonated.
  • Never give fireworks to small children; even sparklers can cause serious burns.
  • Keep all pets especially dogs away from any fireworks.

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