Wildfire risk high as July 4th holiday approaches

·2 min read

Jul. 1—High temperatures and lack of widespread significant rainfall are prompting new safety warnings for the upcoming July Fourth holiday.

As drought conditions continue to build throughout Georgia, the Georgia Forestry Commission is reminding residents about the increasing risk of wildfire.

"We need everybody's help in keeping our communities and our forestlands safe," said Georgia Forestry Commission Chief of Protection Frank Sorrells. "As you plan outdoor activities this summer, remember that any kind of spark or ember can be a hazard, especially when they're near dry grasses and vegetation."

While fireworks and the Fourth go together like hot dogs and mustard, special care must be exercised in any setting that's not operated by professionals. If residents plan to set fireworks off themselves, be sure to know the local ordinances by contacting county or city officials. The local fire department

is a good source of information.

Residents should recognize and know that fireworks start wildfires. Don't ignite fireworks or allow them to travel, over dry grass and vegetation, or into wooded forest areas. Follow all safe practices, both for personal safety and to prevent injuries to people nearby.

It may not seem likely, but summer tools and supplies regularly used can also become dangerous incendiary devices if not carefully handled. Sources of ignition that can spark a wildfire include outdoor grills, campfires, and even hot vehicle undercarriages and lawn equipment.

Careful thought must be given to the location of grills, open cooking fires and campfires. They should be in areas free of dry grass and vegetation and well away from homes, buildings and forested areas that could succumb to embers scattered by a simple stirring of the coals.

It's wise to keep water on hand to quell flare ups and spreading flames, along with a cell phone to call 9-1-1 if needed.