Dry conditions prompt caution this holiday, safety officials say

Dry soil, high temperatures and a holiday known for cookouts and fireworks could increase the risk of fires this weekend.


“We were so wet this spring, and in the last three weeks, it’s gotten exceptionally dry and very hot,” said Steve Abbott, chief ranger senior for the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Columbia and Richmond County office.

Although state authorities consider the region out of the long drought cycle that has plagued the Southeast, localized readings of soil moisture and ignition factors indicate a relatively high risk of fires, he said.

“People will have to be extra careful with outdoor fireworks, and also with barbecues, fires, anything with flame,” he said. “We would advise to keep cooking fires small and only pop the legal fireworks in a concrete or cement area, or dirt areas, and not to shoot fireworks near woods or homes.”

The commission’s forecasting depends on a drought index that goes from zero to 800. “Right now it is at 630 and that is very dry,” he said. “We also have classifications of one through five, with five being extremely dry,” he said. “Last week we had several Class Five days and it’s looking very similar this week.”

Similar concerns were expressed in Aiken County, where firefighters battled a large brush fire on Thursday.

"Because the conditions are so dry and breezy and windy, Fourth of July becomes a concern. People shooting fireworks need to be aware of the conditions and the high possibility of a fire starting,” said Aiken County sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Myers.



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