Departments urge fire safety over holiday weekend

Departments urge fire safety over holiday weekend

HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Fire departments across RVA are on high alert this weekend as many of you plan to celebrate the holiday by lighting things on fire!

Fireworks are illegal in most areas across central Virginia, with some exceptions like Hanover County.

However, authorities urge you to head to legitimate firework shows instead of setting them off yourself, especially following a high number of house fires over the last week.

"At the end of last week into the weekend we had five fires at homes related to improperly discarded smoking materials in just 36 hours," said Henrico Fire Captain Rob Rowley.

With the holiday weekend kicking off fire crews are worried about citizens breaking the firework ordinance and setting them off anyways.

"We may have even more problems with fires," Rowley said.

In 2018, two homes in Chesterfield caught fire on the 4th of July leaving significant damage.

"Cleaning up some of the debris, putting them in a trashcan; the trashcan caught on fire,” said Chesterfield Fire Lieutenant Jason Elmore. “It's very similar to putting your fireplace ashes into something like that."

"It is extremely common this time of the year to see fires outside of the home such as fires from cooking, fireworks, things of that nature, ignite the siding on a home and quickly turn into a house fire," Rowley added.

Instead crews urge you to get rid of the things you've lit in proper containers.

"Disposing of them correctly in metal or ceramic containers and disposing them not with other flammable materials such as paper or yard debris," Rowley said.

While fireworks are illegal in most areas around Richmond, when it comes to getting rid of those items, hosing it down with water is a must. The same goes for cigarettes.

"We have seen fires from improperly discarded smoking materials that will ignite up to 12 hours after someone has improperly thrown out a cigarette butt," Rowley said.

Additionally, don't forget about fire safety when it comes to grilling!

"Cookouts are a lot of fun, and we hope people enjoy them and stay safe, but they are still an open source of ignition," Rowley said.

Fire officials encourage residents to keep children and pets away from grills to prevent them from being accidentally knocked over.

"Once a fire is started, it's going to spread faster than most folks realize,” Rowley said. “A small grill can ignite a small fire and become a large fire or house fire in a matter of seconds."

According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, fireworks cause on average an estimated 15,600 reported fires in the U.S. every year and injure more than 10,000 people.

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