MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Most places staging fireworks shows this Independence Day took extra precautions. Grounds were wetted down, and extra EMS and firefighting crews were on hand, all thanks to Mother Nature’s unrelenting heat and a burn ban in place throughout the Mid-South.
Walking across virtually any open field, you heard the sound of dry, brown grass crunch underfoot. That crunch said it all.
“With the dryness,” said Memphis Fire Department Battalion Chief, Keith Staples, “the vegetation being very dry, the burn ban was exercised so that we can protect the citizens and prevent unnecessary fires.”
At least thirty of Tennessee’s counties, including Shelby and Madison, were under a burn ban during the Fourth of July holiday.
Desoto County was among the 24 of Mississippi’s 82 counties under the burn ban.
And 70 of Arkansas’ 75 counties, including Crittenden, were under a burn ban July Fourth.
“We’ve seen the devastation that’s happened out west,” Staples told abc24.com, “and we don’t want that here.”
Unfortunately for Mid-South firefighters, this year’s burn ban coincided with July Fourth.
“We stay ready; we stay ready,” said Staples, “regardless of what day it is. We do have fires that take place on the Fourth of July; some are related to fireworks activities.”
That was a big concern not only for firefighters, but for those purchasing fireworks.
“It’s on the news,” said Kendall Harvey of American Fireworks in Southaven, “there is a burn ban. So, people are asking how they can be safer.”
The answers include common sense.
“Always have water nearby,” said Harvey, “or a fire extinguisher, or a water hose. And be sure to spray down your grass.”
While a local ban may exist, fireworks are not prohibited under Tennessee’s state burn ban law. But, a blaze resulting from the use of fireworks could cost you.
“That’s our goal,” Staples told abc24.com, “for people to adhere to the burn ban. It is official.”
Violating a burn ban is considered a Class “A” misdemeanor and could cost you a fine of $2,500 and nearly a year in jail.