Some SE Wisconsin communities consider canceling July 4th fireworks
Jesse Ritka reportsPhoto: Video by tmj4.com
FOND DU LAC - Abnormally dry conditions continue to spread across southeast Wisconsin, creating grass that's more like kindling. It's causing some communities to consider canceling their fireworks display.
"4th of July is one of the things we come here for," Oscar Martinez tells TODAY'S TMJ4's Jesse Ritka. Martinez' family drives up from Texas to see family during the holiday, but they may not get to see fireworks in Fond du Lac this year because of the unusually brown landscape.
Fond du Lac Fire Chief Peter O'Leary is monitoring the grass and the skies, "This year with the dry conditions, we are certainly cognizant of that and I don't want to put any fear into anybody's mind, but like anything else, we're watching the weather."
Without much rain in the forecast, the combination of fireworks and dry grass may be too dangerous for the display to go on this year, much to Martinez' dismay, "If it's not going to be here, I'm going to be very disappointed."
But Chief O'Leary wants to keep onlookers safe. He demonstrated just how bad conditions are, "We just dropped a sparkler into this dry grass, see how quickly it spreads? Since the vegetation is so dry here, it is all going to burn quickly."
That small sparkler caused a three square foot fire in less than ten seconds before one of his crew members put it out. And since such a tiny sparkler can do that, Chief O'Leary wants to be sure this year's 4th of July celebration doesn't result in a much larger fire. So they are discussing postponing or even canceling the show.
"We don't want to do that, we are already working on a contingency plan to have extra personnel, extra grass fire vehicles on site so we can have safe fireworks," explains Chief O'Leary.
They plan to water the grass at the launch site for several days before the big show to combat the dry weather, Waukesha and West Bend plan to do the same and have fire crew members standing by during the fireworks just in case.
"You really have to try and green it up, but that time to do that is ahead of the 4th of July," says Chief O'Leary.
But not every community is as concerned with the fire potential.
Kenosha, Racine, and Sheboygan will be setting their fireworks off over lake Michigan and don't expect any changes in their fireworks plan.
Everything is on schedule for Milwaukee at this time but the firework launch locations will be inspected next week before the oohs and ahhs begin.
So for now, the Martinez family is holding onto the hope of seeing the fireworks that have become such a tradition, "Every year I've been here it gets better and better, hopefully this year, if they do it, it gets even better."