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Fire Danger Prompts Indefinite Ban on Fireworks, Wood Cutting

Fairbanks, AK - There will be no fireworks on the Fourth of July in Fairbanks.  Persistent hot, dry weather and extreme fire conditions brought the state Fire Marshall to Fairbanks today (Thursday).  He joined North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins at a press conference to announce and indefinite ban on personal fireworks and local wood cutting.  

The air in Fairbanks is tan and hazy, and the region smells like the inside of a woodstove as Skinny’s Road Fire continues to burn roughly 20 miles west of the Golden Heart City.  Extreme fire danger prompted Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins to issue a blanket ban on the use of personal fireworks throughout the Borough. "So I ask both our residents and travelers and other residents in other areas to think twice before they take those wonderful fireworks that you can see on New Year’s Eve when it’s dark and cold all the time than here in the summer when it’s awful hot, awful dry and awful bright.  Let’s save ‘em for another time,” said the Mayor during a PRess Conference.

The ban applies to all fire service areas within the Borough as well as the cities of Fairbanks, North Pole and Salcah.  It will be enforced by Alaska State Troopers.

It’s unlikely area residents will see fireworks this Fourth of July.  Earlier this week, North Pole Fire Chief Buddy Lane halted the sale of fireworks in that community.   State Fire Marshall Kelly Nicolello anticipates discussing similar moves with officials in other boroughs across the state. "Right now, we’re keeping a  real close eye on what’s happening in Denali Borough and Mat Su Borough," he says.  "They’re right on the edge and I’m sure I’ll probably have follow on meetings with folks there in the next couple of days.  As conditions change, we’ll react to them.”  Nicolello says the fines and citations for violations will vary. "From a trooper stand point," explains Nicolello, "it could go from criminally negligent burning to arson just depending on how they’re being used.  For someone who simply has it in their possession, they’d be cited with a class B misdemeanor.”   

The Borough’s Land Management Department has also curtailed all personal firewood cutting as well as commercial logging operations until fire danger subsides. The State Division of Forestry has also halted all wood cutting from Fairbanks south to Cantwell and from Salcha west to Kantishna.