KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knoxville firefighters did a demonstration Monday for 6 News on how easily fireworks can cause fires, and dry vegetation isn't the only issue.
Officials would only allow the demonstration in a controlled environment at the fire training center with a fire truck and firefighters on hand. Still, what we saw was impressive.
First up, they lit typical firecrackers with lots of bang and not much fire.
But a simple sparkler on the ground ignited the dry grass quickly. "The area that we shot it in was just a splotchy, little grassy area, dried grass areas surrounded by gravel," said fire department spokesman Capt. D.J. Corcoran.
At a home on a dry lawn the problem could be how fast the flames spread. "It's just a matter of seconds. It would go up so fast that they wouldn't be able to get to a garden hose to put it out," Corcoran said.
Fire crews didn't want to shoot Roman candles or bottle rockets, saying there was too much dry vegetation around.
"We didn't want to shoot anything like this because we didn't know where it would land. That could wind up in a gutter and start a house fire," Corcoran said. "It could also catch shrubbery on fire or mulch around a home."
The most impressive and frightening thing we saw was how a simple sparkler making contact with a piece of clothing can erupt into a blaze. We used a tank top that was 100 percent cotton. It went up "in just seconds," Corcoran said.
Firefighters say sparklers may pose the most danger to kids. "Even when we were doing them here, I burnt my thumb just showing them for demonstration purposes," Corcoran said.
Sparklers also reach alarming temperatures. A thermal imaging camera detects heat. Our demonstration showed a small sparkler exceeded 900 degrees.
"These are items that parents will give to kids thinking they're safe. These burn anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 degrees. They're very dangerous," Corcoran said.