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20120703 FireworkSafetyCOLLEGE STATION — With Independence Day celebrations drawing near, Texas Forest Service officials are reminding residents to remember that just one spark can cause a devastating wildfire.

About 90 percent of wildfires in Texas are human-caused, which means they can be prevented. As residents enjoy building a campfire, shooting off celebratory fireworks in approved areas or cooking on the grill, they’re asked to take a few safety precautions to ensure their homes and families are protected.

Texas Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface and Prevention Coordinator Justice Jones said that while drought conditions have improved for much of the state, wildfire potential still exists — especially in areas where consecutive days of hot temperatures have dried out the vegetation.

“We don’t want to discourage anyone from enjoying the holiday. We just want to remind people that Texas is still prone to wildfire danger,” Jones said. “We’re still seeing almost daily local activity in some parts of the state.”

There are several things you can do to help prevent wildfires:

  • Check for and obey burn bans and fireworks restrictions;
  • If outdoor burning is allowed, create a firebreak (down to bare dirt) around an outdoor fire before igniting the materials to be burned;
  • Keep water nearby just in case a fire starts. It doesn’t take much of a spark or burning ember to ignite dry, fine-textured fuels like grass and weeds;
  • Read and follow label instructions on how to properly discharge fireworks;
  • Only use fireworks with close adult supervision;
  • Use fireworks only in areas clear of dead, dry grass and weeds;
  • Avoid using fireworks, particularly aerial varieties, around buildings. Winds can carry hot fireworks onto roofs where leaves or other flammable debris may have accumulated.

County governments determine firework restrictions and burn bans. Texas Forest Service does not take a position on the use of fireworks nor doe the agency determine, set or lift any restrictions on fireworks.

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