Three of four Independence Day fireworks shows in the county are set to go on as scheduled, despite hot, dry conditions.
In DeKalb, Kirkland and Shabbona, local fire departments have doused with water areas where fireworks will be shot to keep the ground from being too dry. Sandwich officials have decided not to hold the fireworks show that was scheduled for Sunday.
Cindy Capek, executive director of the DeKalb Park District, said DeKalb’s show will begin between 9 and 9:15 p.m. at Hopkins Park and last about 30 minutes. She said city and park district officials were 99 percent sure the fireworks are still on; the only wild card is the wind.
Capek said there will be a command post set up in the park tonight, with police and fire personnel on hand. Firefighters have soaked the area with water, and the fireworks company putting on the show will have extra water available.
“It’s a well-orchestrated plan,” she said.
Jeff Foose, sales representative and show coordinator for fireworks company DCV Imports – which puts on the DeKalb and Shabbona shows – said safety is the No. 1 priority. Weather forecasts show tonight should be hot but calm, he said, but if that were to change, they’d call off the show. Foose said strong winds are his biggest concern.
In extreme heat, Foose said fireworks crews bring extra water cannons and fire departments keep additional pump trucks at the scene.
Rain that fell last weekend and overnight humidity have helped. Foose said most areas north of Bloomington seem to have gotten enough rain to shoot fireworks, but towns in southern Illinois have canceled because of hot, dry conditions.
In Sandwich, fire department and fairgrounds officials walked the grounds Monday where fireworks are shot and determined that the area was too dry, said Starr Frederick, treasurer of the Sandwich Park District.
Even if it rains in the next few days, expected temperatures also are too high, Frederick said. The fireworks will be rescheduled, although possibly not until August, depending on the availability of the fairgrounds.
Other events celebrating the Fourth of July in Sandwich are still on, Frederick said.
Fireworks are scheduled to begin at dusk at Shabbona Lake State Park in Shabbona. Al Aspengren, president of the Shabbona Fireworks Committee, said a park employee cleared brush from the area where fireworks are shot; the fire department, which has watered the area, also will be on hand during the fireworks.
The Kirkland Lions Club is holding its 64th consecutive Fourth of July Celebration, with fireworks beginning about 9:15 p.m. Allan Banks, chairman of the Kirkland Lions Club Fourth of July festival, said firefighters have prepared for the heat and dry conditions by watering the fireworks area for the past week.
Kirkland fire Deputy Chief Mike Stott said they’ve focused on the outfield of the baseball diamond – the spot where fireworks are shot. Other fire departments will be on hand tonight to assist Kirkland if needed.
“We’re just trying to make it as safe as possible,” Stott said.
Banks said tonight’s temperature might determine how many people come out to watch the fireworks. Stott encouraged people to stay hydrated and not overdo it in the heat.