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Heat, Winds Potential Fireworks Hazards

LAWTON Okla_4th of July means food, fun and fireworks, but those fireworks caused problems here in southwest Oklahoma last year.

Over 150 firework- related fires broke out on, or around, Independence Day last year, and we weren't even under a burn ban like in 2011.

This year, we have had some recent rain but some say it hasn't been enough to reduce the danger.

They say it's not just about the rain, it's also about the wind. A windy day might be okay for sparklers or poppers but fireworks that shoot into the air are an accident waiting to happen.

Bill Armstrong enjoys selling fireworks. He's done it for 10 years, but he never wants to relive the year 2011.

"The percentage of sales was down 70 percent," he said.

That all changed for Armstrong's stand last year though. With no burn ban, sales were back to normal.

"I'm hoping that this year is as good as last year," he said,"if not a little bit better".

Looks can be deceiving though. Green grass doesn't mean the ground won't catch fire.

In fact, the conditions in southwest Oklahoma were similar last year as they are this year, and when the fireworks went off in 2012, the fires erupted.

"With the winds and heat we have now, again it will probably be just like last year. We will probably meet the criteria after July 44th, Comanche County Emergency Management Coordinator, Clint Wagstaff said.

By criteria, he means for a burn ban. 

It's a reminder that we are still in the danger zone, and need to keep a couple of things in mind.

For instance, county roads aren't always the best place to shoot fireworks. If embers fly into freshly harvested wheat, it can easily catch fire.

"Those wheat fields are tender boxes," Wagstaff said. "The stems on the wheat are real hollow, and they dry out quickly. It doesn't take much to set them on fire."

Instead, shoot fireworks close to a body of water, or if you do it at home, water the grass down first.

Stands outside city limits are already open and city stands open Tuesday.

As always remember you cannot shoot fireworks in the city limits. If you do and get caught, you can face up to a $750 fine.


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