By Curtis Morrison
It looks like Louisville may put the “fire” in fireworks.
“The continuing dry weather, with a forecast that gives us not much hope for relief over the next 8 to 10 days, causes concerns about the use of fireworks as the Fourth of July holiday approaches, ” warns Kentucky’s State Fire Marshal William Swope in a Friday memo.
Louisville is Kentucky’s most populated city, and excepting a short and scattered reprieve Sunday night, the city has suffered an out and out heat wave in June into July. In fact, Monday night marked a 4-day streak of 100-plus degree days.
A massive fire last Saturday at a recycling operation took 19 fire departments several hours to put out, just across the Ohio River in New Albany. By the time it was out, a total of eight firefighters had been sent to the hospital for heat exhaustion.
Not only has Mayor Greg Fischer not issued a ban on fireworks, either by individuals or by licensed companies hired to put on fireworks/pyrotechnic displays, a headline for a Monday press release from his Mayor’s office reads “Fireworks over the river are a GO; free concerts by Thompson Square, Jimmy Cliff and more.”
Fire Marshal Swope’s memo indicates Kentucky’s Public Protection Cabinet is stopping short of issuing a fireworks blanket ban:
“We believe the decision is properly held by local governments,” Swope wrote.
Indiana Fire Code does not provide for the state to regulate the use of fireworks on private property, however, public displays are regulated.
According to the Indiana Code:
“If high winds, precipitation, or other adverse weather conditions prevail, such that a significant hazard exists, the fireworks display shall be postponed until weather conditions improve to a reasonable level.” (Section 22.214.171.124 of 1123)
Indiana counties, however, are regulating away. As of Monday night, four counties commutable to Louisville have instituted some degree of fireworks ban. They include Crawford, Perry, Orange and Washington Counties. Statewide, a total of 53 Indiana counties and the city of Kokomo have instituted bans. (The complete list)
The U.S. Weather Service is calling for more heat today and Thursday, with highs around 100 degrees. There’s a chance of late evening thunder storms.
At Churchill Downs Sunday night, race fans narrowly averted their demise when gail-force winds caused a metal tenting structure to blow from a higher level of the track to the ground level.
Considering: dry conditions + winds from cold front +fire, Mayor Greg Fischer may be taking a bit of risk in not issuing a temporary fireworks ban.
Let’s hope it all works out.