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Officials encourage safety along with Fourth of July fun

Each year on the Fourth of July, fireworks light up the nightsky. But this year – with dry conditions and a minimal amount ofrain – citizens should take great caution in their celebratoryactivities.

“If they must (shoot fireworks) – I recommend that they don’t -they don’t need to shoot them into the fields or woods that are sodry,” said Clifford Galey, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Civil Defensedirector. “They not only start fires, but they also endangerpeople’s lives and we don’t want any accidents.”

Those shooting fireworks should be mindful of where they set upto shoot them and be careful of where they land.

“Dry grass can be easily ignited by fireworks that put off alarge amount of sparks,” said Dale Brown, Mississippi ForestryCommission public outreach coordinator. “The main thing is to becareful with fireworks and not add to the problem that is alreadythere.”

For the month of June, fire activity has been on the increase,Mississippi Forestry Commission officials said.

“In June, the fires we’ve been having is not typical for thistime of year,” Brown said. “This summer is shaping up to beequivalent to what we went through in 2000, which was a droughtyear.”

Brown said that fires are even starting because of lightning,which normally only accounts for 2 percent of fires.

“Some of the fire calls we are getting simply reinforces how dryit is,” he said. “Right now green grass is burning.”

Monticello Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief HughSummers suggested that keeping a garden hose close by and ready touse in the event that a fire does catch up is important.

“We want our families to enjoy cookouts and watermelon cutting,but quiet often our people end up at fires,” Brown said. “But we dounderstand that it is our job.”