Dry weather sparks fire safety warning

    Forestry official says fireworks, cigarettes could ignite blazes

    Setting off fireworks or tossing aside a lighted cigarette could be hazardous for the environment as the Philadelphia region continues to bake in hot, dry weather.

    A dry spring and start to the summer is creating the potential for forest fires, such as two in New Jersey’s Pinelands that burned nearly 1,300 acres of wooded area last weekend.

    Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the New Jersey Forest Service, says just sending up some fireworks could easily start a fire.

    “Personal fireworks are illegal in New Jersey but we all know that you are going to see plenty of personal fireworks going up in the air,” he said. “They can start forest fires.

    “Please don’t use them, be very careful in what you do, because we don’t want to create major fires,” he said.

    Ragonese says in some areas professional fireworks companies have to clear dry brush to make sure their shows don’t touch off blazes.

    He adds people should use ashtrays when smoking instead of flicking their cigarette out of a car window.

    This weekend will mark the return of torrid heat, with temperatures expected to rise near 95 degrees on Independence Day on Sunday and near 100 degrees by Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

    Last month was the warmest June on record in the Philadelphia area.

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