But in the West, the danger posed by a historic drought and extreme temperatures will impact how people will be able to celebrate the Fourth.
The region is dealing with an unrelenting drought, that has been ongoing for more than 20 years, and currently at its worst point in the decades-long drought.
Currently, drought coverage in the West has climbed to an all-time high of 93%, with nearly 60% in ‘Extreme’ or ‘Exceptional’ (the two highest categories). This is impacting around 60 million people across the Western US. There are five states completely in drought conditions; California, Oregon, Nevada, Utah and North Dakota.
“If there were ever a year we wanted to avoid fire ignitions in the Western US, this is it,” climate scientist Daniel Swain told CNN. “In general, we want to constrain those ignitions as much as we can in a year like this when vegetation in many parts of the West is at record dry levels, surpassing last year’s levels of dryness.”
Multiple studies have shown the West’s increasingly extreme and prolonged droughts are a consequence of the climate crisis.
The dry vegetation makes the region ripe for wildfires and officials are warning that fireworks just aren’t worth the risk.
Fire risk is at an all-time high
Fire officials in the Bay Area warned residents that it would take just 30-60 seconds for a sparkler to ignite a blaze in dry grass that could no longer be controlled by a garden hose.
He added that this year there is a new ordinance in the Northern California county that will hold property and vessel owners responsible if fireworks are found on their property or determined to be used on their property.
“Fireworks are a part of that American fabric that brings us together,” James Fuller, Firework Safety Expert with TNT Fireworks, told CNN. “No one in our industry wants our products to expose families to harm or damages.”
In many local jurisdictions in states such as California, Washington, and Nevada, the only fireworks that are allowed are labeled “Safe and Sane,” meaning they don’t create aerial effects or explode.
Canceled firework shows
In Salt Lake City, Mayor Erin Mendenhall along with Fire Department Chief Karl Lieb, announced June 22 that personal fireworks were banned although the city will still host a professional show.
“Our foothills, open spaces, and even our yards and park strips are dry and could be ignited by a single spark, threatening life, safety, and property,” Mendenhall said in a press release. “These conditions present a very real, immediate threat of fire. We have seen communities in neighboring western states be leveled by urban wildfires in recent years, and we cannot take unnecessary risks that may put us in the same position.”
“Reducing the risk of fire from disallowing fireworks is one way to protect the Park City community,” David Thacker, Park City’s fire code official, told CNN.
Low water reservoirs
“Weeks of scorching temperatures have only added more urgency to our call for deliberate and thoughtful water conservation, both indoors and out,” Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities Executive Director Laura Briefer said in a press release. “These canyon watersheds supply water to more than 360,000 people in the Salt Lake City service area. Catastrophic wildfire could be devastating not only to the land, but could have serious impacts on our water supply and safety.”
While people can still buy fireworks in certain areas, officials urge residents this year to leave the ignition up to the professionals.
CNN’s Brandon Miller, Rachel Ramirez, Danielle Sills and Kaylene Chassie contributed to this report.
Source: CNN – US News