Drought Wont Stop July 4th Fireworks in Some Dry States
by Cassady Sharp
July 3, 2014
Its so dry around Phil Griegos New Mexico village that grass crunches when ranchers like himself shift horses, cattle and other animals from one field to another.
Thats why theDemocratic state senator tried to pass an update to New Mexico fireworks laws that would have providedcities and counties more authority to ban fireworks when fires are more likely. It didnt happen, despite support from fire departments, both sides of aisle and the governor, who has wanted to change the law for about three years.
Griego toldThe Associated Pressthat he hopes the law is revisited sooner than later.
This is critical because I dont think this drought and this situation were in right now is going to pass any time soon, Griego said. For this year, its done and over, but weve got to start working on next year. Weve got to have protections. Look at the fires that are taking place now with just lightning strikes.
Things are different in California, which suffered has been rocked bythree dry wintersand an ongoing drought impactingwater supplies,food pricesand more. Few cities allow the sale and use of legal fireworks. The statesforestry division has enacted anopen-burn ban this week for millions of acres it manages. It also has a zero-tolerance policy for illegal fireworks.
Arizona began allowingthe sale and use of some fireworks four years ago, but has updated laws to prohibit them in the counties of the states two largest citiesPhoenix and Tucsonbut only around the July 4 holiday. The Phoenix Fire Department will place trucks around the city to quickly respond to potential brush fires, while city employees will monitor hiking trails.
Some lawmakers in Texas declined to impose fireworks restrictions on small businesses, so legislation to empower the state fire marshal stalled.
Utah is much more aggressive, authorizing counties torestrict fireworks in unincorporated areas. Fire risk causedmore than 50 cities and towns to impose more restrictions this year.
Were trying to keep control on it, Glenn DAuria, president of the Arizona Fire Marshals Association and a Tucson fire inspector, told the AP. Its new for us. Its not like back East where people grew up with it.
Its a new toy to play with out here.