June 27, 2017


By Neal A. Shipman
Farmer Editor

Unless McKenzie County receives some significant rain in the next several days or the temperatures remain on the cool side, this could be a very quiet Fourth of July when it comes to youngsters and families enjoying their annual tradition of shooting off fireworks.
As reported in this week’s issue of the McKenzie County Farmer, all of McKenzie County is currently under a fire ban, which means that the discharge of fireworks is also being prohibited this year. The caveat is that the county’s fire ban is sort of a moving target. Every day the county’s emergency manager will determine the fire danger level. If it is at the high, very high, extreme or Red Flag level, the county’s fire ban goes into effect. And right now that ban also includes the discharge of fireworks.
Obviously, not being able to shoot off fireworks this year will be a big disappointment to a lot of people - from the people who make a living selling fireworks to the people who enjoy shooting them off or enjoy watching them
But the reality is that fireworks can, and do, cause fires. And considering the dry conditions across our county, the last thing that anyone wants is for a fire to occur. Each and every year for the past several years, one or more of our county’s volunteer fire departments have been called out to help extinguish a fire that was started because of fireworks.
Fireworks can be an insidious fire source. Bottle rockets or other forms of aerial displays can drop hot and burning components on the roofs of nearby homes or in nearby pastures, fields or other grassy areas, where they can smolder before starting a fire. And those fires sometimes don’t start until long after the last of the fireworks are shot and everyone has gone inside.
While much of the countryside still has a very green appearance, don’t let the green color fool you. While the grass or fields may be green, there is a tremendous amount of dead material lying underneath that can and does burn very quickly.
So this year use common sense when it comes to fireworks. Don’t just assume that you can shoot off fireworks. It’s better to check the McKenzie County Emergency Management’s Facebook page, which will be updated by 8 a.m. every day, to see if the fire danger is at the high or higher level. And if you still have questions, check with your local law enforcement agency. It is better to be safe than sorry or to face a fine for discharging fireworks during a time when they are prohibited.
And if under the worst of scenarios where fireworks are banned this entire Fourth of July holiday, remember that Arnegard will still be holding its annual fireworks display.