Leader Blues

Sunday, July 01, 2007

TOP STORY >>Illegal fireworks shooting starts brush fire

IN SHORT: Two Cabot boys turned themselves in after they accidentally started a blaze in a rock quarry this week.

By JOAN MCCOY
Leader staff writer

Two boys illegally shooting fireworks in Cabot Wednesday evening at an abandoned rock quarry off Willie Ray Drive set fire to a half-acre tinder box of tree stumps and logs that had been dumped and drying there for many years.

The resulting blaze kept firefighters busy from about 9:30 that evening until the early morning hours when all but one crew went home. About 11 a.m. the next day, the fire trucks had to roll out again when a driver working for Roland Tree Service, which has been dumping at the quarry, unwittingly added fresh fuel to the fire.

Cabot Fire Chief Phil Robinson said Thursday afternoon that the heat was intense, but the fire was contained so that none of the adjoining property was damaged.

The fire was near Sun Terrace subdivision, a church, a machine shop and a wooded area filled with inhabited travel trailers, Robinson said.

Every available Cabot firefighter was called out to fight the fire. Robinson said firefighters from North Pulaski Volunteer Fire Department manned Central Fire Station so the city would not be unprotected. Mountain Springs Volunteer Fire Department came to the fire with a tanker and a brush truck. Volunteer firefighters from Ward and Butlerville offered aid, he said, but the area was difficult to access and there simply wasn’t room for them. The city has a ban on shooting fireworks that is disregarded by many every year.

The boys who started the fire at the quarry reported it and then went to the police department to talk to the police.
Since they are juveniles their names will not be released.

Sgt. Brent Lucas, public information officer for the Cabot Police Department, said the illegal shooting of fireworks becomes more of a problem as Independence Day draws closer.

At press time, it was not known whether the boys would be cited for breaking the city ordinance against discharging fireworks.

The fire chief said it had not been determined if the boys’ parents would be billed for any of the cost of fighting the fire.
Fireworks are prohibited inside the city limits of Austin, Ward, Sherwood, Cabot and Jacksonville. Beebe allows the use of fireworks in the city on 8 a.m to 10 p.m., July 3 and 7 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. July 4.

Lonoke allows fireworks in the city on private property from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on July 1 to July 3, and 8 a.m. to midnight on July 4.

Chief Robinson had these comments for Independence Day firework shooters.

“Each year, more than 10,000 personal injuries are the results of fireworks used on the Fourth of July.
“Additionally, they result in nearly $20 million each year in property damage.

“It is my hope that Cabot Fire Department personnel provide information to our citizens that will reduce, if not eliminate, injuries, and property damage associated with the use of fireworks.”

Therefore the fire department issued a release with several safety tips for residents to keep in mind during this holiday season.

Linda Sakiewicz, Jacksonville Animal Control Department, says to be sure pets are secured so that firework noise and lights won’t cause them to become scared and run away.

“You won’t believe the number of calls we get the day after the Fourth for missing pets,” she said.The best way to avoid injuries with fireworks is to not use them at all.

Instead, attend a public display conducted by fireworks professionals.

If a person feels they have to shoot their own, Robinson encourages residents to follow these simple rules:
- Always read and follow label directions.

- Always have a fire extinguisher or water hose nearby.

- Never try to re-ignite malfunctioning fireworks.

- Never give fireworks to small children.

- Never throw fireworks at another person.

- Dispose of fireworks properly by soaking them in water and then disposing of them in your trashcan.

- Light only one firework at a time.

- Always have an adult present.

Leader staff writer Jeffrey Smith contributed to this article.