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Fire danger top of mind for holiday weekend

Municipalities are reminding the public of fire restrictions, while some people feel some anxiety or increased awareness about fire risk.

COLORADO, USA — Cities and counties are pleading with people to follow fireworks rules ahead of this Fourth of July weekend.

Any type of firework that leaves the ground is illegal in Colorado. Some municipalities have gone even further with various fire restrictions.
And after several destructive Colorado fires in recent years, firefighters are starting to notice how public attitudes around fire risk are changing, too.

“I think there are a lot of people that are very scared,” said Molly Cropp, a firefighter with Boulder Fire Rescue. “After the Marshall Fire, it seems much more real.”

Cropp said her team has noticed an increase in calls reporting smoke or fire, and people who are quick to call about smoke even if its not from a local fire.

“People will say to us, ‘After the Marshall Fire, I’m just a lot more aware of smoke and fire and sights and smells and all those things.'”

Cropp said people are starting to understand fire risk isn’t just contained to national forests or deep wilderness. As more people move into the foothills, she said, the wildland-urban interface is becoming smaller.

“The Marshall Fire, unfortunately, is an example of that: Something that we never would have ever been able to think about a few years ago is now a reality for us,” she said. “We would see in California, entire neighborhoods burn down and think, ‘Oh that would never happen here.’ But now it has, and we need to be really cognizant of that.”

The City of Boulder has an open burn ban, which means no fireworks of any kind. Cropp noted that there will always be some people who don’t follow restrictions, but first responders still hope to warn community members ahead of the holiday weekend.

“I know people say, ‘Oh, its just this little sparkler, I’m doing it safely.’ Again, we don’t want to be the ‘fun police,’ but those little sparklers - they're really dangerous for little kids. People don’t realize how hot sparklers get,” she said.

“We just need to be really careful. A small spark can lead to really, really big fires.”

There have been more than 20 Red Flag days so far in the Boulder area this year. Boulder Fire Rescue started bringing in more staff on those days to prepare for any needed response.

While drought conditions across Colorado have improved in recent weeks, most of the state is still under moderate to severe drought.

“The fact that we have green leaves and green grass does not mean we’re safe,” Cropp said. “The amount of rain that we’ve had is not enough to get rid of severe drought we’ve been in for so long.”

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