Police, Fire and Farmers Worry about Fourth of July Fireworks

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(WHNT) - Regardless of the weather on Thursday, you can bet lots of people will be shooting off fireworks in celebration of America's birthday.

And that has authorities -- and farmers -- worried.

Nothing says Fourth of July like fireworks, but nothing will ruin it faster than an accident involving fireworks.

"You could have a short-burning fuse and not get away quick enough," said George Daigle, Assistant Fire Marshal for the Huntsville Fire Department.  "They have the potential to burn.  Anything that you ignite or has any type of small explosion can hurt a child."

He emphasizes fireworks of any kind are illegal within the city limits and police will be looking around for violators.

"It's illegal to possess, use or discharge any fireworks.  so that means you can't even have them on your property by city ordinance."

But in the county, where farmers grow fields of wheat, authorities know shooting off fireworks is legal.

"The fields are dry," said Chief Tony Kirk of the Athens Fire Department.  "All it takes is just one item of fireworks going into that wheat field and you've got a fire.  It is so easy to start those up."

Firefighters beg for people to be careful, to be aware of the direction of the wind, to watch out for where the firework may land.  And they say parents should always monitor their children using fireworks.

But the fear goes further for authorities, because the most popular ways to prepare food for the holiday can also pose fire hazards.

"It is against the law to have a grill on or under a balcony with any type of combustible material.. plastic, wood, anything on the balcony, under the balcony, you cannot have those grills on there," said Kirk.

He recommends having a metal pail of water closeby where hot coals can be dumped after grilling to make sure there are no hot pieces that can turn into fires.

There is a public fireworks display set for Wednesday night at Joe Davis Stadium at 9:00 p.m. and then two more Thursday night at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and at Hampton Cove.