DENVER (AP) — Drought and wildfire fears are snuffing out some Fourth of July festivities this year.
From Utah to Indiana, state and local governments are calling off annual fireworks displays out of fear that a stray rocket could ignite tinder-dry brush and trigger a wildfire. They're also warning residents not to use fireworks, sparklers or Roman candles in backyards.
The worry is especially acute in the West, where crews are already battling out-of-control blazes in several states. Parts of the Midwest are affected, too, after weeks without any significant rain.
It's not uncommon for communities to delay or cancel fireworks shows because of drought conditions, but this year, the practice is more widespread. Last year, about a third of the country was in drought. Now it's nearly three-quarters.