Kodiak is one of the few places where fireworks are legal this weekend, but fire officials still urge caution

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Kodiak is currently under a “moderate” risk of fire danger. That means it’s drier than normal and accidental fire could spark somewhat easily.

Lee Finlayson is the chief of Bayside Fire Department, which is in the Kodiak Island Borough just outside of city limits.

He says there’s currently no fireworks ban in Kodiak, although the dangers associated with fireworks elsewhere are extreme.

“If they’re anywhere besides Kodiak, I wouldn’t be lighting anything off. I would just avoid it. We know that we have wildland fires going on the mainland. And we don’t need to contribute to that,” Finlayson said.

According to a Thursday press release from the Alaska State Troopers, there are currently 160 active wildfires in Alaska. Over 1.6 million acres have been burned this season. 

And in an emergency burn closure issued the same day, the Alaska Division of Forestry & Fire Protection prohibited burn barrels, debris fires, and other types of fire for a huge swath of the state stretching from Fairbanks to Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula. The Alaska Fire Marshal’s office also announced a blanket ban of fireworks throughout much of the same area.

While they’re allowed in Kodiak, Finlayson says he’s mindful of all the things that can go wrong when fireworks are used irresponsibly.

“2021 the last report that I had was, there were about 1500 injuries with fireworks and 1100 of those were sparklers,” said Finlayson. “So, even little kids running around with sparklers can easily burn themselves.” 

Heavy rain is forecast throughout the island over the 4th of July weekend. Finlayson says he hopes people celebrate safely. 

“All around, just use common sense. Never let the kids play with, or let children light fireworks- including sparklers. If you’re gonna light sparklers and just make sure you’re watching them. Explain to them that that end, even after it’s out, that end is still very hot and they can easily burn themselves,” Finlayson said.  

According to Finlayson, it’s never a bad idea to stay in and watch a patriotic movie in the spirit of the holiday. 

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