Drought causes firework safety concerns


Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Mason Watkins

MCCRACKEN COUNTY, Ky. — The National Weather Service says there's something everyone lighting fireworks needs to know.

Many people think fireworks are essential for celebrating the Fourth of July.

While our nation's birthday is nearly three weeks away, some are already buying and playing with sparklers, Roman candles and firecrackers.

Firework safety is always an issue around the Independence Day holiday but the extremely dry weather in our region this year makes it critically important.

The forecast doesn't look much better. In fact, it doesn't look like there's much relief in sight between now and Independence Day.

Fireworks are fun but folks at home need to get reacquainted with the firework safety because this year, the potential for problems is much greater.

One little firecracker may seem somewhat harmless compared to bigger fireworks. But this year, weather experts say any small spark or misfire could fuel a fire.

"This year could be quite the problem," said meteorologist Jim Packett with the National Weather Service in Paducah. "It may rain a ton the day before July 4 and soak everything down and we may not have any issues but again, we're looking at persistence here and the long term is indicator more of the same."

Packett said as firework tents are raised, awareness should go up, too.

"All it takes is a spark, cigarette butt or whatever to get it going," Packett said.

JoNathan Holeman runs the Lone Oak Firework stand. He's only been open three days and folks are already buying and shooting his product.

"Everyone likes explosives," Holeman said. "They'll come here looking for small stuff and then they're like, 'Oh, you got big stuff.' They don't realize that it's legal this year,'" Holeman said.

Bigger fireworks that could cause bigger problems.

Folks at the NWS say your yard is probably dry, so before you shoot any fireworks, take a hose and soak the ground around the firework. That way, if sparks fly, you don't have a fire.

Experts say always have water handy. You should also never relight a "dud" firework. Instead, you should wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water. Spectators should keep a safe distance. And don't mix alcohol with fireworks. Get a designated shooter instead.

It's also important to note that while Kentucky law changed last year, permitting the sale of larger fireworks, many cities like the city of Paducah have banned fireworks that leave the ground or explode.


For more on the drought in our region, click here and here. For firework safety tips, click here.