Virginia Department of Forestry urging caution with fireworks

Stephen Igo • Jun 17, 2013 at 12:01 AM

RICHMOND — While legal fireworks and sparklers are a popular part of July 4 celebrations, the Virginia Department of Forestry warns in most areas of Virginia they could also become a cause for wildfires.

“One spark is all it would take for a wildfire to start,” said Fred Turck, assistant director for wildfire prevention and education with VDOF. “Fireworks that have finished burning are still extremely hot, and they can smolder in dry grass or leaves before a fire ignites.”

Turck recommends keeping a bucket of water, wet towel and a fully charged garden hose handy when setting off fireworks. The agency also cautions that children and pets should be kept a safe distance from igniting and spent fireworks.

Virginia forestry officials indicate it’s not just pyrotechnic shows set off by cities and towns that pose a threat. Personal use of fireworks, cookouts and bonfires that are popular during the Independence Day period could also start fires that would spread rapidly in dry conditions.

VDOF recommends the following safety tips:

• Buy from reliable fireworks sellers, and use only those that are legal for use in Virginia and in your locality.

• To detonate fireworks, find a flat surface away from buildings, dry leaves and dry grass.

• Have water, a rake and a shovel on hand.

• Insist on adult supervision when buying or setting off fireworks.

• Read and follow label directions, warnings and instructions.

• Be sure other people are out of range before igniting fireworks.

• Light only one firework at a time, and never try to re-ignite fireworks that have not detonated.

• Never give fireworks to small children. Even sparklers can cause serious burns.

• Keep all pets, especially dogs, away from fireworks.

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