Abnormally dry weather causing big concerns this Fourth of July

CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) – With the Fourth of July right around the corner, a lot of people are looking to shoot off some fireworks and sparklers. Erie county officials are looking to change that mindset.

Fireworks and sparklers are always dangerous to use on Independence Day, but this year, it may be a bigger concern than usual. It’s no secret that it has been abnormally dry this summer. Buffalo is about 6 inches below the average rainfall amount. Add heat and flame and the situation could escalate quickly.

Bill Cranston, Captain of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, said, “The fire risk is very high this year! About 30,000 fires are started each year due to fireworks usage across the country. The dry conditions we’re seeing across Erie county and this region, certainty aren’t going to help that.”

Cranston warns about the dangers something as small and as seemingly harmless as a sparkler can bring.

He said,” People have to remember, that sparklers burn at about 1200 degree. Which is very similar to the temperature of a welding torch! So many people, including many many children across the country, are injured by these items every year.”

In addition to being abnormally dry, wind is a huge concern.

Tiger Schmittendorf, Deputy Fire Coordinator of Erie County Emergency Services, said,” In less than desirable weather conditions, especially on a breezy day like today, people underestimate the power of fire in general, and holding something like that in your hand can be very very dangerous.”

If you are choosing to use those sparkling devices, Schmittendorf had some advice.

He said, “Use good common sense anytime they are around fire.”

This doesn’t only include fireworks. Starting your grill or having a small recreational fire can be problematic. He suggests having water nearby in case something does ignite.

It’s important while celebrating the red white and blue with family and friends to be safe.

Schmittendorf said, “We want them to certainty enjoy everything that’s great about Erie County and Western New York this holiday weekend but we want to make sure they do it safely and smartly.”

Smart and safe use is important but officials wanted to remind residents that although sparklers are allowed in Niagara County they are not in Erie County or the rest of Western New York.

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