Unforeign fire waiting to occur. Photo by Jim Watson ( Getty Images)
This weekend is the Fourth of July, which means beer and burgers as well as parades. However, fireworks are a popular choice for this holiday weekend in West cities.
The West has been suffering from severe drought. The record heatwave of this week has only made matters worse, heating the ground and sucking away already little moisture. This means that already dangerous wildfire conditions have become downright disastrous. In an effort to make the situation worse, fireworks bans were implemented throughout the region.
Portland was the epicenter for some of this week's most extreme heat. Three consecutive days of record-breaking temperatures saw the city set new records, with one day reaching 116 Fahrenheit (46 Celsius). It has also not gotten any rain in the last two weeks, and only 32% of its usual rainfall since April 1. The Fire Department of the city issued an immediate ban on fireworks Tuesday.
As part of the state of emergency, Bend, Oregon placed restrictions on fireworks Monday. The restrictions will be in place until July 9th and come with a $750 fine for those who violate it. However, two professional shows can still be held. Similar restrictions were also imposed in Oregon's Tualatin and Milwaukie and Clark counties. The same was true for the three Washington cities Camas and Washougal. Many Utah counties and cities where the governor asked residents to pray for rain are also prohibiting pyrotechnics in July 4.
This may sound like a lot of work, but pyrotechnics can cause an average 18,500 fires each year when they come in contact with vehicles, buildings, or trees. Last week's Sky Fire, which burned 26 acres in Fresno County California, was caused by fireworks. A pyrotechnic device and the smoke it produced caused a massive fire in San Bernadino last summer by attendees at a gender reveal party. A similar 2017 pyrotechnic-themed fire in Arizona caused $8.2million in damage. Unwittingly, a 15 year old set off fireworks in 2017 that burned more than 30,000 acres of Oregon.
A letter was signed by more than 100 fire science experts asking for a ban on fireworks. Research has shown that July 4th is the day when wildfires are most active. Not only are fireworks a factor, but also barbeques and errant cigarettes that are thrown at gatherings and other bad behavior play a part. However, pyrotechnics are still a factor in this chaos. The combination of climate change and fire weather is a nightmare.
Researchers wrote that adapting to more intense fire seasons and longer days will require rethinking certain traditions and activities. Keep safe this Fourth of July and make sure to help your neighbors, firefighters, and yourself by preventing wildfires.
This is especially true this year. Experts are concerned that this could be the West's most explosive fire season. It is important to take every step possible to prevent wildfires from starting.