Forest Service Warns: Keep Fireworks from Starting Wildfires
LINCOLN, Neb. — The nation's birthday is a time of celebration – picnics, ball games and fireworks. As fireworks sales begin across the state, fire-safety officials say it's a good time to review wildland fire safety measures.
Fireworks routinely cause wildfires. Just one careless, stray spark can burn thousands of acres and cause needless injuries. Last year, fireworks caused 57 fires in Nebraska, which resulted in $285,365 in losses, according to statistics provided by the Nebraska State Fire Marshal's office.
"We want Nebraskans to keep their Independence Day celebrations both memorable and safe by following basic fire safety precautions," said Mike Morgan, wildland fire prevention associate with the Nebraska Forest Service. "The largest number of outdoor fires associated with fireworks involve grass and brush fires. Combine that with the dry conditions in Nebraska during the summer and you create suitable conditions for wildland fires."
Even though recent rains helped some areas of Nebraska return to a normal wildfire season, others continue to experience increased fire danger. Since wildfire season began in mid-April, Nebraska has declared extreme fire danger alerts during 43 percent of that period.
In addition, the National Fire Protection Association reports that in 2011 fires started by fireworks caused an estimated $32 million in direct property damage. During 2007-2011, the largest numbers of outdoor fires associated with fireworks involved grass fires (6,800 per year), brush fires (4,500), dumpster fires (1,700), unclassified or unknown-type natural or vegetation fires (1,300) and other outside trash, rubbish, or waste fires (1,200).