As the July 4th holiday nears and area residents start scooping up fireworks, fire stations around the county are on high alert.
“Absolutely, we’re on guard,” Keefeton Volunteer Fire Chief Speck Plunkett said. “Everyone is. We’re in very dry conditions, the grass is unbelievably dry, and people like our ranchers around here are afraid of fireworks sparking a fire that creates a big problem.”
Plunkett said one small spark is sometimes all it takes to create a disaster. With families in Muskogee County starting to load up on fireworks, the threat of a big fire is a real one.
“My comment to the public would be to be very, very careful when it comes to lighting fireworks,” Plunkett said. “All it takes is one spark to cost several hundred acres.”
Amanda Madewell was selling fireworks Friday at the God’s Powerhouse Church stand on Shawnee Bypass.
“It’s been slow, but it started to pick up (Friday),” Madewell said.
Muskogee Fire Department Chief Derek Tatum wants the public to stay as safe as possible when it comes to fireworks.
“Sometimes people don’t treat fireworks as explosive devices, which they are,” Tatum said. “So, we ask everyone not only to be careful about fires but also be careful about injury.”
Accordingly, Tatum said, the fire department is going to be as prepared as possible.
“We’re preparing for the Fourth,” Tatum said. “We’re predicting a bad Fourth of July just because of the temperatures and dryness. So we’ll be at full strength with all our trucks and people ready to go.”
Tatum had some advice for people lighting off fireworks this week:
• Keep a bucket of water nearby;
• Keep a connected hose ready;
• If a fire starts, call 911 immediately.
“It’s easier for us to turn around if the fire’s over than to put out a fire that has a 15-20 minute head start on us,” Tatum said.
• Don’t forget, fireworks shot off may cause a fire at a distance.
“Just because you shoot a firework close by, the fire may start a ways away,” Tatum said. “The best advice I have is to keep a close eye on the entire situation, and let’s avoid a disaster.”
Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth
Firework safety tips
• Keep a bucket of water, garden hose and/or fire extinguisher handy in case of fire, malfunction or other mishaps.
• Light fireworks outdoors in a clear area away from houses, dry leaves or grass and other flammable materials/
• Never try to re-light fireworks.
• Keep unused fireworks away from the firing area.
• All fireworks should be extinguished.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• After fireworks fully complete their functioning, douse the spent device with water from a bucket or hose before discarding to prevent a trash fire.
Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission