Wisconsin DNR says to be mindful of firework use in drought conditions

Published: Jul. 1, 2023 at 6:17 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Celebrating the nation’s Independence Day comes with the use of fireworks, whether they be professional displays or at home.

With personal use though, also comes the risk of starting wildfires.

“It’s certainly an opportunity to be careful and prevent those unwanted human-caused fires. We always have concerns over fireworks causing a wildfire,” Katherine Koelle, a wildfire prevention specialist with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

She said the DNR wants everyone to be mindful of the moderate to severe drought conditions in the Badger State when using fireworks as part of the holiday activity plans.

“We did have some recent rains, although rather minimal and kind of spotty. However, if you do choose to use like a sparkler, which can seem relatively innocent, but believe or not those sparklers have been known to cause a couple of wildfires,” said Koelle.

UW-Eau Claire alums Daryl and Marie Braatz agree. They are visiting from Mesa, Ariz. where the conditions are hot and bone dry.

“We’re always concerned about wildfires, and it’s been kind of dry up here in Wisconsin. We’re happy to be here and we don’t want the city to burn down,” said Daryl.

“And, we’re looking forward to the fireworks coming off of the high bridge Tuesday night. It should be a spectacular show and we hope everyone stays safe,” said Marie.

Quinn Faust and Liam Enright are two current UW-Eau Claire students who have enjoyed their 4th of July with the use of fireworks in the past, but are opting out this year.

Still, they say it’s fun and people should be mindful when using them.

“Just don’t be dumb with it I would say, as soon as you light that stuff off. You don’t want to disrupt anyone,” said Faust.

“Usually if I was gonna light fireworks off it would be in the street, mainly just out where there’s no trees so nothing can catch on fire,” said Enright.

Koelle has tips for those who want to use fireworks at home.

“So, we recommend using those on concrete or gravel. Having a water source available. Pay attention to where your fireworks go if you do choose to use a bottle rocket, or something like that,” said Koelle. “They can be erratic and land in remote areas and cause a fire. If that does happen, please dial 911 immediately and get the fire professionals out on scene so we can put it out as quickly as possible.”

Koelle said there’s been about 50 small wildfires in Wisconsin in the last week.

She also notes that while the DNR has no jurisdiction outside of State and Federal lands, where the use of fireworks is prohibited, anyone who has caused a wildfire with the use of fireworks will be financially responsible for suppression and any damages that occur.

Here is a map for current fire conditions in Wisconsin.