For parts of the nation, a fireworks-free Fourth

July 1, 2012 • National News

In this Thursday, June 28, 2012 photo, Paul Forman, owner of Independence Fireworks and Forman Blasters Pyrotechnics in Peru, Ind., talks about the fireworks ban in his county, in Peru, Ind. Forman says he understands the safety concerns but says his countyís decision to declare a disaster emergency has devastated his business. Four customers had already called off fireworks shows this week, and he anticipated more cancellations before the holiday. He said his business had dropped from around 50 customers a day to a total of 11 since the ban went into effect June 25. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

DENVER (AP) — Drought and wildfire fears are snuffing out some Fourth of July festivities this year.

From Utah to Indiana, state and local governments are calling off annual fireworks displays out of fear that a stray rocket could ignite tinder-dry brush and trigger a wildfire. They’re also warning residents not to use fireworks, sparklers or Roman candles in backyards.

The worry is especially acute in the West, where crews are already battling out-of-control blazes in several states. Parts of the Midwest are affected, too, after weeks without any significant rain.

“We usually have a fireworks barge and a huge gala that attracts thousands of people,” said Bill Appleby of the Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, which represents the lakeside resort town about 90 miles northwest of Denver in the Rocky Mountains. The display is usually safe out on the water, but “we just can’t risk an errant ember.”

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