Most summers, Plainfield averages about an inch per week of rain, according to Plainfield Deputy Fire Chief Jon Stratton.
But recent dry conditions mean that once-lush lawns are now brown and dry — and perfect kindling for an errant firework.
Stratton said fire officials are in talks with Plainfield Park District staff on ways to keep the community safe from grass fires during this year’s Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks Display, set for Tuesday, July 3, at Plainfield Central High School.
“I do know there are communities that are cancelling their fireworks,” Stratton said, although there are no plans to do likewise in Plainfield.
“We’re going to be monitoring [the July 3 fireworks show],” Stratton said. “Typically, with the commercial stuff, they’re up high enough where nothing hits the ground.”
Even so, he said, “We’re keeping our fingers crossed.”
A bigger concern, Stratton said, is amateur fireworks displays, which are illegal in Illinois.
“A lot of my concern is the homeowners doing their own fireworks,” he said. “They’re going off, but you don’t know where they’re landing.”
A firework landing in some dry grass or mulch could spell disaster — and big trouble for whoever set it off.
“They have to realize that if something happens, they’re responsible,” Stratton said.
He urged homeowners to be aware of any fireworks going off in their neighborhoods.
“When you’re hearing fireworks, I’d keep an eye on your grass,” Stratton said. The fire department has fielded five calls in recent weeks for grass and mulch fires caused by discarded cigarettes.
While no major damage was done, Stratton said the dry conditions could easily lead to a more serious blaze.
“It doesn’t take much for a grass or mulch fire to get going, between the dryness and when the wind picks up,” he said, adding it would take a “significant” amount of rain to decrease the risk.
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