Local emergency personnel are urging residents to be aware of the possible increase in fire and medical emergencies due the dry conditions and heat in St. Charles County.
Temperatures have lingered in the 100s for days, and with the Fourth of July holiday coming up, fire and police officials warn that the drought-like conditions and fireworks don’t mix.
Some fire departments, including Wentzville and Cottleville, have already seen small grass fires due to personal fireworks displays.
On Monday afternoon, several emergency workers gathered at the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Office to discuss the potential dangers.
Participants included police and fire fighters from O’Fallon, Wentzville, Lake Saint Louis, St. Peters, Foristell, Cottleville, Orchard Farm, Central County Fire Rescue and St. Charles County.
To reduce risk of fire in St. Charles County, emergency workers ask residents:
- Not shoot off personal fireworks at home
- Refrain from using recreational fires, such as campfires or fire pits.
“Fireworks are not banned in St. Charles County at this point, we’re asking you, as fire agencies, obviously with the dry conditions as they continue, to refrain from using them," Wentzville Fire Chief Randy Bornhop said, adding any kind of open fire could cause a problem within these dry areas of the county.
While allowed in Weldon Springs and in unincorporated parts of St. Charles County, personal fireworks are illegal in O’Fallon, St. Peters, Wentzville and Lake St. Louis. St. Charles allows fireworks be used on July 3-4 between 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.
But the bans don’t always stop residents from adding a spark to their Fourth of July barbecues.
On Monday, O’Fallon Police Chief Roy Joachimstaler said police in O’Fallon have answered over 100 calls this week regarding fireworks.
He said last year between July 1-5, the department received around 350 calls from residents reporting fireworks being shot off in their neighborhoods.
“We’re cautioning, that it’s definitely a public safety issue and we’re cautioning that it’s illegal,” Joachimstaler said.
Joachimstaler added police will handle each call they receive and take appropriate action, if they can determine who was shooting off the fireworks.
In O’Fallon, those caught may have to pay a fine or appear in court.
The chief encourages residents to enjoy professional displays like O’Fallon’s two scheduled shows at Heritage and Freedom Fest.
Professional Fireworks Displays Still Scheduled for St. Charles County:
O’Fallon Heritage & Freedom Fest
When: 5 p.m.–10 p.m. July 2, 5 p.m.–11 p.m. July 3, 9:30 a.m.–10 p.m. July 4
Where: Ozzie Smith’s Sports Complex
Parade: 9:30 a.m. July 4 at the corner of Third and Main Streets
Entertainment: Jamie O’Neal at 6:30 p.m. and David Nail at 8:45 p.m. on July 3, Carolina Liar at 5:45 p.m. and Vertical Horizon at 8 p.m. on July 4
Fireworks: 10:15 p.m. July 3, 9:30 p.m. July 4
Activities: Carnival rides, children’s entertainment, inflatable bounce houses, game booths, concessions
Wentzville Fourth of July Celebration
When: 10 a.m.–9:30 p.m. July 4
Where: Progress Park, 968 Meyer Rd.
Parade: 10 a.m. on West Pearce Boulevard
Entertainment: Live music at 2 p.m., Smash Band at 6 p.m.
Fireworks: 9:05 p.m.
Activities: Free swimming noon–7 p.m., inflatable bounce houses, clowns, balloon sculpting, concessions
St. Charles Riverfest
When: 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. July 4
Where: Frontier Park
Parade: 10 a.m. July 4 at Blanchette Park
Entertainment: Patt Holt Singers at 12:30 p.m., The Cattani Band at 2:45 p.m., the St. Charles Municipal Band at 4:15 p.m., Charles Glenn at 8 p.m., Fabulous Motown Revue at 8 p.m. and a Charles Glenn encore at 9:45 p.m.
Fireworks: 9:20 p.m. July 4
Activities: Carnival rides, children’s entertainment, concessions
Bornhop said these organized professional displays are safer than fireworks set off in a backyard, because they are larger and go higher in the air, with less chance of them coming down in a yard.
“Those are also set off by national standards, as far as safety and as far as where buildings and people are," he added.
In addition to urging residents to refrain from using fireworks in the dry, hot weather, St. Charles County emergency responders also ask residents to be mindful of the heat.
Bornhop asks that residents take time to check on elderly neighbors, children and pets.
“Make sure everyone is staying hydrated, and if you’re working outside, make sure you take frequent water breaks and stand in the shade,” Bornhop said.