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Fireworks, grilling still OK

Dry ground and hot coals don’t mix, so be careful when cleaning up after each grilling session.

Since this week’s scattered rainfall throughout Covington County hasn’t done much to improve the area’s drought conditions, local residents should take precautions to avoid the start of fires during outdoor activities, said Mike Older, Alabama Forestry Commission work unit forester for Covington, Coffee and Geneva counties.

“We’re still under a drought emergency,” Older said. “That little bit of rain we’ve gotten over the last few days is so scattered. The southeast corner of the county hasn’t gotten anything, but up near Straughn, they got 2 inches.

“What little rain does fall, with a day, the sun is going to dry it out, so it doesn’t do anything to help our situation,” he said. “It’s just a temporary cool down.”

Weather reports show 1.15 inches fell in Andalusia Wednesday. According to forecasts, it should be sunny and a hot 95 degrees for today’s June 24th Masonic Celebration in Florala; however, there is a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms after 1 p.m., which could impact afternoon activities.

On Sunday, the rain chance drops to 20 percent with a high of 96 degrees.

The slight chance of rain remains throughout the beginning of next week, forecasts show.

Older said in light of the upcoming July 4th weekend, local residents should be mindful during outdoor activities.

“Right now we’re not restricting fireworks,” he said. “But, if the drought continues, that may be something that’s looked into. In 2007, we had to only allow municipalities doing professional firework shows.

“Like I said the emphasis is that we’re not banning the sale or use of fireworks where it’s legal,” he said. “However, if a fire starts from fireworks, the firework user is responsible for the damage. So really, I would discourage their use until we get a good amount of rain.”

The same precautions can be issued for those grilling, Older said.

“When you’re using gas, it’s not a problem,” he said. “But, when it’s charcoal, there are something you must do to keep a problem from arising. One, let (the fire) completely burn out or if you dump it, make sure it’s on solid soil that’s wet down thoroughly. Don’t dump it on the grass at the edge of the yard. One little spark and we all know what can happen.”