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Fire officials remind you to be safe with fireworks this season


UNDATED, Wis. (WSAU) -- The Fourth of July weekend is coming up and as you head out to buy your fireworks, local fire departments remind you to be safe and sane.

State law requires any fireworks that explode or leave the ground to only be handled by licensed professionals. Wisconsin Rapids Captain Bob Barteck says that includes baby mortars you get in wrapped packages as well as bottle rockets. "Everyone thinks they're pretty safe, until one of those things lands in a neighbor's gutter that still has some leafy debris and ignites your neighbor's house." In 2011, there were 17,800 structure fires started by fireworks resulting in 32 million dollars worth of property damage.

Wausau fire inspector Jeremy Kopp says you should be giving yourself and your family plenty of room. "...You know it's basically an explosive and you never really do know what's going to happen, so you want to keep yourself safe and keep everybody that's watching a safe distance away in a safe area." He recommends placing your fireworks in the backyard a safe distance away from your neighbors as well.

Stevens Point Lieutenant Jodi Baganz says it may be common sense for most people, but don't light off fireworks inside your garage to try and hide them from your neighbors. "Some of us keep our fuel cans for our outdoor power equipment, and sometimes they get hit, and now you've got a bigger problem. So outside only please." He also says you should been keeping your pets inside while the fireworks are going off, especially your dogs. "They startle the dogs, and the dogs will either nip or bite somebody, or what is most likely happens and this has happened time and time again is the dogs take off."

If you have any questions about fireworks safety or finding safe fireworks, contact your local police or fire department.