Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wildfire weary city places 60-day ban on fireworks

Weary from extreme drought and a record wildfire still burning after five weeks, the Chicago Fire Department on Thursday banned fireworks for the next 60 days--a period including the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.

"Fireworks by design are somewhat volatile and sometimes unpredictable," a spokesman said. "They have a proven track record of causing fires, and that's in conditions less dry than this."

The largest wildfire recorded in Chicago since the Great Fire of 1871 started in a south side warehouse April 16. Since then, numerous fires have destroyed property and caused traffic nightmares, shutting down interstates and Metra lines.

The current blaze, now centered in Hegewich, has burned 496,785 acres--or 776 square miles--of low income housing and shuttered factories. It has destroyed countless homes and lives.

A spokesman for the Fireworks Association of Illinois said the city has unfairly singled out fireworks when cigarettes, barbecue grills and lawn mowers can also start fires.

"We can ban fireworks and that's not going to stop wildfires," the spokesman said. "It's an inappropriate response, targeting one product when we should be looking at general fire safety. A more appropriate response would be banning lightning strikes within the city."

The fire commission is undeterred, noting that more than half of the city faces "extreme" fire danger--the most severe rating. At the current rate, if the fire is not struck, the entire city will be burned down within a month.


Anonymous Daniel B. Honigman said...

Good. Hopefully there will be fewer kids with their faces and hands blown off this year.

8:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yo blog be dead.

9:59 PM  

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