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Drought Causing 4th of July To Be Dark For Some

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - An emergency order banning fireworks in
the Daniel Boone National Forest, prompted by widespread drought,
went into effect Wednesday.
Federal Forest Service officials have banned fireworks for 120
days because of the danger they would bring to the drought-plagued
region. Anyone caught possessing or lighting fireworks will be hit
with a $75 fine.
"It's pretty bad," said Forest Supervisor Jerry Perez. "We're
in pretty severe conditions."
It's the first time the park has banned fireworks since 1999.
The forest service already bans the possession and use of fireworks
in recreation areas.
Professional holiday celebrations with permits will not be
affected.
There have already been 70 reported fires in the forest this
year, burning more than 5,800 acres. Thirteen fires have been
reported since May 1, a "quite unusual" number, according to
Perez.
One major fire, which took place in Red River Gorge and forced
the closure of two hiking trails, burned 68 acres and started from
a runaway campfire.
The state forestry division has not issued any bans on
fireworks.
"We'll just be on heightened alert and have our people ready to
respond," said state Forester Leah MacSwords. "There's not much
else we can do but advise people that they need to be extremely
careful with fireworks."
The state fire marshal said it's up to local authorities to
determine whether to install a ban because of the drought.
"If they're bound and determined to do it, they need to take
precautions," Fire Marshal Rodney Raby said. "We want them to
celebrate their independence and celebrate the occasion, but not
burn down their houses or damage anyone else's property in the
meantime."
In Kentucky, fire hazard seasons run from February through April
and again from October through mid-December, unless drought
conditions are present.
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Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
http://www.kentucky.com

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-06-27-07 1433EDT


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