June 22, 2006
Albany -- Three fourths of all fireworks injuries in Georgia happen in the four week period surrounding Independence Day. With the drought, firefighters are worried about that legal sparklers still pose a big danger.
There are legal sparklers in Georgia, but firefighters say they are a major fire hazard because of the drought conditions. Sparklers will easily set a newspaper on fire, but the sparks landing in a well manicured lawn also started smoldering in seconds.
Albany Fire Deputy Chief David Eddins said, "It takes little or nothing to start grass on fire. We have enough grass fires on our own, without sparklers or fireworks adding to that."
Sparklers burn at a temperature of 1800º, and can cause severe burns if not properly enjoyed. But firefighters worry those sparks in pine straw or dry grass could pose a larger danger. "They have to used with adult supervision. Don't just turn them over to a young child and let them go out in the yard and play them by themselves," Eddins said.
There were very few injuries or problems caused by Georgia's legal sparklers last year, the first Fourth of July they were legalized.
Firefighters worry that 2006 could be different because of the drought. Firefighters say at least take precautions before you light sparklers.
Eddins said, "Have some kind of water. A hose, buckets of water there, a five gallon bucket of water there so you could extinguish it if something happened right away. Don't get in harms way. If it gets bigger than they can handle, get the fire department on the way there."
Of course many Georgians will be shooting off firecrackers and skyrockets that are not legal in this state, but sold in Alabama and Florida, and they are an even bigger fire and injury threat. The State Fire Commissioner reminds you that illegal fireworks in Georgia can be punishable by a one thousand dollar fine, and up to one year in jail.