It seems as if consumer fireworks are getting more and more popular each year. During the 4th of July, they are just as popular as parades, hot dogs and strawberry short cake.  

     Over the past few years, consumer fireworks in Maine have also been the cause of approximately a dozen small wildfires every year.  Woodlands with volatile softwood trees and shrubs are particularly vulnerable. 

     If you are considering using consumer fireworks, check the State Fire Marshall’s website first to find out about fireworks regulations,  safety concerns and which towns allow them.  

     Here are a few tips about using fireworks of any kind outdoors:

  • Know the daily fire danger: check the wildfire danger report
  • Choose a safe area free of flammable materials
  •  Keep your garden hose charged and have a few buckets filled with water and a shovel handy 
  • Make certain fireworks are completely out and cold before leaving

     What if a fire does start in the woods?

     If the fire is smaller than 2-3 feet in diameter, put it out with a shovel and water and check it several times. If the fire is larger or has burned deep down into the duff, Kent Nelson, a Forest Ranger Specialist with the Maine Forest Service, recommends calling 911 and getting the fire department or the Maine Forest Service there. During this time of year, he says, duff fires can smolder for days and really need to be “mopped up” by a trained firefighter.  Small fires don't really begin to spread until mid-afternoon when the temperatures rise, the relative humidity drops and the winds pick up.  “It doesn’t take much for an inexperienced person to get injured on a fire. Be safe and if a fire starts, call the professionals,” he advises. 

     Have a safe and happy 4th of July!

(Excerpted from text provided by Kent Nelson)

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