Fireworks off limits in region's national forests

With high fuel loads in the forests, the danger of a wildfire could be very high this year.

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As the Fourth of July holiday approaches, officials are asking people to remember that fireworks are prohibited in both the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests.

"Fireworks at this time of the year are a big concern," said Bret Ruby, fire management mfficer for the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. "The seemingly harmless sparklers, as well as the bigger combustible devices like rockets and Roman Candles can start a fire."

Heavy spring rains have produced abundant grasses, Ruby said in a release. "This fine fuel load is already starting to cure and it only takes a few hours of sunny weather, wind and warm temperatures to increase the fire danger," he said. With dry weather forecast for the week of the July 4 holiday and the potential for thunderstorms the risk of wildfire is considerably increased.

Fireworks are also prohibited in parks and areas maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineeers. Campfires and barbecues are allowed in designated areas. Some locations have restrictions on open fires, so people should check the information kiosks at recreation areas for additional fire restriction and safety notices.

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