Fire safety urged during Fourth of July celebrations

Published 2:31 pm Friday, June 29, 2012

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, State Forester Linda Casey urges everyone to use caution when burning outdoors, according to a press release.

“We want everyone to enjoy their celebration, but we also urge the use of extreme caution with all debris burning and outdoor fires, including campfires and fireworks,” Casey said. “It is very dry in parts of the state, and the tornados of 2011 left thousands of acres of downed and damaged trees in their wake, creating a wildfire hazard in much of North Alabama. Conditions are such that any fire can quickly spread out of control, threatening lives and property.”

For those who plan to celebrate with cookouts and fireworks, the Alabama Forestry Commission, State Fire Marshal and U.S. Forest Service encourage extra safety precautions in light of the dry conditions over much of the state.

Avoid shooting fireworks in or near dry grass, leaves or other combustible materials.

Thoroughly soak the area with water where fireworks are to be discharged, and have a garden hose or other source of water nearby.

The same preventive measures apply when using charcoal grills. Do not dump hot coals in, near or around dry grass, leaves or other flammable materials. Do not bury hot coals.

Allow briquettes to cool completely, or soak them with lots of water, stir them and soak again, being sure they are cold to the touch. Never leave a grill unattended.

“Wildfires do not stop at property boundaries, so we are asking the public to know the rules and help us protect Alabama communities,” said Steve Lohr, U.S. Forest Service supervisor for Alabama’s National Forests.

If a fire starts, it is strongly recommended that people do not attempt to fight it themselves.

Instead, call 911 immediately and wait in a safe place for the arrival of the local volunteer fire department.