Our state’s wildfire season has been painful for many communities. Areas across Arizona are suffering through intense blazes that are burning hundreds of thousands of acres, displacing families and businesses in their wake.

Arizona is a tinderbox, and relief from the monsoons has yet to materialize.

That’s why those of us who live in Southern Arizona must give careful thought when we consider using fireworks to celebrate Independence Day. One spark could start a fire the likes of which we are seeing across our state this spring and summer.

Authorities say most of the fires were caused by humans. Maybe someone didn’t completely douse a campfire or a spark from a motor vehicle started a brushfire that grew out of control. Either way, the results have been catastrophic.

Unfortunately, similar results could occur in residential areas. Something as seemingly benign as a sparkler could rapidly spread flames when fanned by windy conditions. Anyone considering the use of fireworks this year should remain particularly careful and vigilant.

I’m not asking residents to put aside their patriotism. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Town’s Star Spangled Spectacular is an evening of family fun that doesn’t cost a cent and the fireworks show is managed by professionals who do hundreds of displays a year. They operate under controlled conditions and leave nothing to chance when it comes to public safety.

Northwest Fire District personnel will be on hand during the event to ensure timely suppression should any fires be ignited.

Fires annually cause significant damage and loss of life and, this season, have stretched resources to the brink. Brave men and women from across the country have been brought to Arizona for weeks at a time to battle numerous blazes. They are doing all they can to control the current wildfires.

Fireworks can be hazardous in other ways. U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 7,000 people for fireworks-

related injuries in 2008. Sparklers can reach temperatures of 1,200 degrees and account for about one-third of reported July 4 injuries to children younger than 5 years old.

Marana’s Star Spangled Spectacular is a safe and enjoyable way to enjoy July 4 with family and friends. It’s one of the many examples that show how the town remains committed to providing quality recreation and community-building events throughout the year.

I look forward to seeing you at Arizona Pavilions as we all celebrate our nation’s independence.

For more on the Town of Marana Star Spangled Spectacular, please visit www.marana.com.

Ed Honea is the mayor of Marana.

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