Local fire chiefs are concerned about the upcoming July 4 holiday and errant sparks causing brush or residential fires.
“We have had at least three incidents where firefighters have responded and attributed ... fires [to having been] caused by fireworks,” said Chief Dewey Woody of Bradley County Fire Rescue on Monday.
Woody and Cleveland Fire Chief Steve Haun issued a statement during the weekend about fireworks safety while Bradley County and Cleveland are experiencing “hot and extremely dry conditions.”
Both chiefs, along with state officials, are asking the public to refrain from burning debris or starting any open flame. Particular precautions should be taken with the upcoming Independence Day and celebrating with fireworks in areas only where they are legal.
State Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak issued a statement last week.
"To avoid risk of injury and property damage associated with consumer fireworks, join other community members in attending a public display put on by trained and licensed professionals," according to McPeak.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, twice as many fires are reported on Independence Day than on any other day of the year in the United States.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry also issued a statement from state forester Steven Scott who said, "Most areas of the state are experiencing very hot and dry conditions with low humidity." Forestry officials say that major causes of fires during these conditions include sparks from field equipment, discarded cigarettes, lightning, campfires, arson and fireworks.
“We want to remind city residents that individual or private fireworks displays are illegal within the city limits of Cleveland,” said Haun.
"Conditions are perfect for an uncontrollable and dangerous brush fire that could easily threaten lives and property if care is not taken. We all need to use common sense and good judgment before lighting fires and setting off fireworks," Woody said. "The harsh conditions are not only dangerous for fires, but for personal well-being. We should be hydrating ourselves and staying in the shade rather than thinking of burning debris in the heat."
Temperatures topping 100 degrees for several day have added to the dryer conditions along with low humidity levels.
The city’s annual fireworks extravaganza is set for Wednesday evening at the Bradley Square Mall beginning at dark. Thompson’s Flea Market on Highway 64 also will set off a display Wednesday evening.