Officials aim to avoid repeat of fireworks-related blazes

June 30, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6 a.m. June 30, 2012

State fire officials reminded Independence Day revelers to practice fire safety in a bid to avoid a repeat of fireworks-related fires from 2011.

State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy said fireworks caused 264 fires last year, including 199 wildland and vegetation fires — or 75 percent of fireworks-related blazes. The fires resulted in $118,350 in losses.

Summer weather conditions make grasses and other vegetation dry and susceptible to fire. If revelers use fireworks in hot, windy conditions, a small fire can rapidly grow if grass or another fuel is present.

If a firework comes into contact with a vegetated area, use a hose or bucket of water and soak the area. Make sure no hot spot remains to rekindle later.

Officials also reminded Fourth of July travelers to plan for traveling with fireworks.

In the Washington State Ferries system, the Washington State Patrol uses explosive detection canine teams. These dogs sniff out explosives, including fireworks. Passengers in possession of illegal fireworks could face prosecution.

Ferry passengers in vehicles carrying fireworks should anticipate the dogs detecting the fireworks and store the fireworks in areas easily accessible to state patrol personnel.

“Ferry customers are expected to obey laws regarding legal fireworks in Washington State,” agency Homeland Security Division commander Capt. Randy Drake said in a statement. “Legal fireworks include sparklers, ground spinners and roman candles. Illegal fireworks or other explosive devices are not allowed on ferries and will be confiscated and disposed of by the Washington State Patrol.”

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