Wisconsin drought increases fireworks risk: 'We are very dry'

As Wisconsin's drought drags on, park rangers and firefighters share concerns about people setting off fireworks this Independence Day.

"Given the nature of how hot and dry it has been, we do have the potential of fireworks being an issue, outside fires, as well as some exposures due to the heat," said Hartland Fire Captain Josh Orgas.

Wisconsin law forbids usage of fireworks like bottle rockets, unless the person gets a special permit. 

At the Hartland fire station, it was already expected to be a busy time.

"This is usually one of the busiest weekends we have here in the Hartland Fire Department," said Orgas.

The Independence Day holiday sees a boom in 911 calls and hospital visits. According to a 2019 Pew Research Center report, July 4 and 5 were the days with the highest number of emergency room visits.

The drought sparks new warnings.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

"We are very dry. We are in a drought here in southeastern Wisconsin," said FOX6 Weather Expert Tom Wachs. "We are now a little over three inches below average since June, which is really wild to be as dry as we are right now."

"As dry as what it is and windy right now, one spark, it can really create a large, disastrous fire," warned  Marc Sass of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Sass, who is a cooperative area forest ranger for the state of Wisconsin, said fireworks have sparked fires in Wisconsin.

"Fireworks cause, I would say, dozens of fires every year across the state," said Sass. "I’ve responded to a number of them. It doesn’t take much, especially with the dry fuel conditions, the grasses and the leaves and things like that we have right now. It really doesn’t take much for a fire to start."

Firefighters suggest taking steps if you decide to shoot off fireworks.

"Any time you’re going to be lighting off any sort of incendiary device with how dry it is out here, we do recommend that you water the grass beforehand," said Orgas. "Have that water hose ready and available afterward to ensure that if any fire does spread, you have something readily available there."

When you're done, firefighters suggest placing the used parts in water.

You also might face fines if you don't have the special permit to light the fireworks.

After July 4, there might be some more reasons for you to celebrate, as the weather might produce a water and light show.

"We may have a couple of isolated thunderstorms Tuesday afternoon and evening, but it’s really on Wednesday, Wednesday afternoon and evening when a cold front comes through. That could bring in some decent rain and maybe a severe thunderstorm or two," said Wachs.