Drought increases firework dangers

June 25, 2012 8:28:24 PM PDT
With the Fourth of July just a little more than a week away and Illinois stuck in a drought with no rain in sight, many communities are worried about the dangerous combination of fireworks and dry weather.

The sprinklers are running 12 hours a day to ensure the grounds where they will hold the fireworks display in Tinley Park are well saturated.

They are pumping water in from a nearby lake and with the near-drought conditions in the area making everything dry and fire hazard, they're taking no chances.

We plan to lay out pipe with irrigation in order to water down all the area the fireworks could potentially land to prevent any grass fires from starting," said John Curran, Tinley Park Parks and Recreation director.

In many area communities, they are planning on continuing the Independence Day fireworks tradition, but with lots of precautions.

In Itasca, which hosts one of the largest suburban shows, they're also watering the grounds and running extra hoses to the site.

In Park Ridge, they plan to have plenty of fire personnel on hand the night of the show.

A real concern with fireworks this time of year is not as much the professional display as it is any amateur or illegal fireworks that are out there in the neighborhoods," said Park Ridge Fire Department Deputy Chief Jeff Sorensen.

The lack of rains this year has not only turned many yards brown, but it's also left many structures with potential fire hazards should stray embers of fireworks land on them and the fire could spread quickly.

Fireworks are also always a danger to whoever is lighting them off.

"Even with a sparkler, what you've got to understand is that they burn at such a high temperature, the potential for a catastrophic burn is instant on contact," said Orland Hills Fire Protection District Chief Ken Brucki.

Of course, the largest fireworks show in the Chicago area is downtown along the lakefront. The city, however, because of budget constraints, pulled their sponsorship of that this year.

The only show downtown this year is on the Fourth and sponsored by Navy Pier.


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