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Fire chiefs urge fireworks safety
June 28, 2012 Jerry Purvis   

Read more by Jerry Purvis
The recent hot and dry weather only emphasizes the importance of being careful when handling and discharging fireworks during the Fourth of July celebration.

Gering Fire Chief Jay Templar said his department’s first call was June 25, the first day fireworks may be legally sold and discharged.
“We had a dumpster fire that was caused by fireworks that were thrown away,” Templar said. “It’s important to wait until the fireworks are cold before they’re put in the dumpster.”

Dana Miller, Scottsbluff Fire Chief, also reported multiple calls due to fireworks-related fires.

“We’ve had some grass fires and a possible small structure fire,” Miller said. “People need to be aware of where they are when they shoot off fireworks. Combustible materials that have been baked in this heat are prime targets as fire sources.”

Miller added that if a fire can’t be readily put out with water, people should call 911 immediately so the fire won’t spread any further.

Templar said other hazards include anyplace where there’s lots of vegetation and dry weeds and grasses.

“The best place to set off fireworks is on pavement or dirt that isn’t surrounded by dried grass,” he said. “People need to be aware of the wind as well. Wind can carry off embers to other areas, which could start a fire.”

Bushnell, just west of Kimball, has banned all open fires and fireworks this year due to dry conditions. But Templar doesn’t think that will happen in Gering. “After last year’s debate over shortening the fireworks season, I can only imagine what kind of response we’d get if people thought we might ban fireworks,” he said.
Massive forest fires have been plaguing parts of the west, including northern Colorado. Templar said it was ironic to see warning signs flashing along the Interstate banning the discharge of fireworks. Still, a number of stands were selling them.

Templar said there’s always a possibility for a fire to get out of control, especially in outlying rural areas where there’s lots of dry vegetation.

When discharging fireworks, it’s recommended it be done close to a water source, such as a bucket of water or a hose to extinguish any small fires that might start. Also, fireworks should be doused in water before disposal.

State law allows the sale and discharge of fireworks between June 25 and July 4. In Gering, fireworks may be set off between 8 a.m. and 10:30 p.m., with the cutoff time extended to midnight on July 4. Scottsbluff has a similar ordinance, but the cutoff time for fireworks is 10 p.m. and extended to midnight on July 4.
People are also required to clean up their own fireworks debris once finished.
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