Fire hazard forces Athens to postpone July 4th fireworks

Fire hazard forces Athens to postpone July 4th fireworks

Posted:
Fersmire described the area that didn't burn as a "tinder box." Fersmire described the area that didn't burn as a "tinder box."
"These fires we would not be able to put out," said Fersmire. "These fires we would not be able to put out," said Fersmire.

By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

ATHENS (WATE) - The city of Athens has postponed its July 4th fireworks display and related activities due to the fire hazard during the heat wave.

Officials say they're working with permitting agencies to schedule another date for the fireworks and duck race. Both events require a state permit.

"This is not something that we want to do, but something that we have to do," said Parks and Recreation Director Austin Fersmire.

A mower preparing the fireworks area at Regional Park Thursday hit a rock that caused a spark and ignited a fire.

"This was a spark," said Fersmire. "This was not a cigarette or anything, this was a spark."

Officials say the mower operator couldn't contain the flames, even though he had a fire extinguisher.

Firefighters were able to respond immediately because they were on site working on another project. They stopped the flames at the woods, but had to monitor hot spots up to six hours later.

Fersmire described the area that didn't burn as a "tinder box."

"These fires we would not be able to put out," he said. "We've got homes, we've got businesses behind the park, we just can't take that risk."

He said with more than 10,000 people expected on the fourth of July, the area simply wasn't safe for fireworks. Naturally, many were disappointed by the news.

"We come with a pretty good group," said Glenn Whiting, who attends annually with his family. "We see a lot of our old friends we fellowshipped with over the years. This is only time we see them, on the 4th."

The move certainly has economic implications, with nearby businesses and the city likely to take a hit.

"Other cities have been calling up to say how could you have the nerve to cancel your show," said Fersmire.

Still, he said, it's worth the disappointment not to take any chances.

A fireworks display scheduled for Corbin, Ky. was also cancelled as a result of the heat wave.

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