Fireworks and hot temperatures don't mix - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fireworks and hot temperatures don't mix

July 3, 2006

Albany--High wildfire danger and a night of fireworks could be a destructive combination. Georgia has experienced nearly three times the normal number of wildfires in the last month, so the Georgia Forestry Commission is warning people to be careful as they celebrate the Fourth of July.

In the last month, forest rangers have battled 650 wildfires throughout the state of Georgia. They say fireworks will only add more fuel to the fire.

You won't find many people who aren't fascinated by the sights and sounds of fireworks. 

"Everybody loves fireworks: kids, adults, grandmas, grandpas. Everybody comes to buy them," says Michael Pearlman with Phantom Fireworks. He sells all kinds of sparkler-type fireworks now legal in Georgia.

"Tanks, big fountains, small fountains, pretty much have it all," he says.

While they can all be fun, thanks to south Georgia's hot, dry weather, he advises customers to play it safe when using his products.

"Don't set them off near loose grass, hay, stuff like that, anything that's flammable that could start a fire," he says.

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to fireworks is using them in wooded areas. High temperatures mixed with low humidity just increases the chance of wildfires.

"You shoot off a bottle rocket and it goes into a wooded area, once it's shooting out the embers and flames, it's going to start a fire because it's just that dry," says chief ranger, Deanna Pietras, with the Georgia Forestry Commission.  She says she's seen more than enough wildfires recently.

"We've had five just over the last two weeks, and we've had two in the last two days, and we've noticed there's been a large increase in size," she says.

For much of the summer, the humidity has been lower than normal. "We're even staying hot at night. Even eleven clock at night, you're looking at mid-eighties, and it's just taking the moisture out of the fuel," she says.

If you're going ignite fireworks, Pietras says pay close attention to your surroundings. "Just set off as few as you can and make sure that you watch everything that you do," she says.

As for Michael Pearlman, he doesn't expect the recent weather hazards to hurt sales.

"It's been pretty busy non-stop," he says.  But along with having fun, he says being smart is just as important.

"As long as you read the label and follow the instructions, you shouldn't have any trouble," he says.

If you do use fireworks, make sure to double check the area when you're finished, so the sparks from the fireworks are completely out.

Fireworks that actually explode or shoot into the air are illegal in Georgia. If you use illegal fireworks and start a fire, you could be fined and be charged fire suppression costs as well.

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