With much of northern Illinois in a moderate drought, local fire and emergency management officials are warning residents of the potential risk of fire caused by fireworks.
The Lake County Fire Chiefs Association and the Lake County Emergency Management Agency are asking residents to avoid using sparklers or illegal personal fireworks over the Fourth of July holiday.
"Any fireworks can produce sparks that can start wildfires when conditions are very dry. A fire that starts is likely to grow and spread rapidly," said Kent McKenzie, Lake County Emergency Management coordinator. "Also, fires of any kind can be dangerous, including campfires, bonfires and even cooking grills when not used safely, so we urge residents to use extreme caution."
According to a statement from the Lake County Fire Chiefs Association and Lake County Emergency Management, the unusually dry weather across northeastern Illinois has resulted in an increased risk for wildfires. He added that several significant brush and grass fires have occurred in Lake County over the past week.
The National Integrated Drought Information System has placed all of Illinois in the moderate drought category.
According to the National Weather Service, the climate station at O'Hare International Airport has measured less than a half inch of rain in June, which is about 2.69 inches less than normal.
No significant rainfall has been forecast for the next several days, other than a slight chance of thunderstorms each day through July 4.
"Agencies across the area will be enforcing Illinois laws regarding fireworks, open burning, and hazardous conditions," according to the statement from the fire chiefs and emergency management. "Residents are encouraged to attend professional fireworks displays because they are closely monitored for safety."