Drought Effects Felt On Fourth Of July Activities
Undated (AP) _ Residents of Illinois were asked to pray for rain Sunday to end the drought and a fire was completely contained after charring 1,100 acres of tinder-dry Michigan forest and briefly forcing evacuation of 60 families.
Some firefighters spent the weekend on standby because of the heightened fire danger caused by the drought, and some Indiana communities put off their Fourth of July fireworks displays until later in the summer in hope of rain.
In Minnesota, the Hare Krishna League of Devotees of Minneapolis offered to do its part with what was billed as an emergency rain dance and chanting session.
The chants will work because ″the real reason there is no rain is that there is not enough sacrifice to God, so things are being restricted by God,″ said group Krishna-Katha.
Sunday was declared ″a statewide day of prayer for rain″ in Illinois by Gov. James R. Thompson.
″The people of this ... state need to come to their senses and their knees to seek an end to the drought,″ said Illinois’ Assistant House Minority Leader Penny Pullen.
In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the forest fire mostly within the Hiawatha National Forest was contained by fire lines Sunday morning and crew were using hand tools to extinguish lingering embers. Two firefighters had been injured.
About 60 families returned early Saturday to their homes along Lake Michigan’s Little Bay de Noc after being evacuated Friday night, a spokeswoman. Two outbuildings were destroyed Friday, she said.
Michigan state crews alone have battled at least 438 fires statewide this year, compared with an average 352 fires in each of the previous five years.
Minnesota’s Department of Natural Resource firefighting crews were on standby over the holiday weekend to douse any flames caused by fireworks above tinder-dry fields. Five fires in the Cambridge area of central Minnesota were started by illegal firecrackers Friday, said DNR spokesman Tom Baumann.
Franklin, Tenn., banned fireworks, including the city’s own scheduled Fourth of July display. But firefighters were on alert through Monday in the anticipation of blazes started by people using fireworks despite the ban, Williamson County Emergency Management Director Mike Thompson said.
″One-fourth of our manpower have to remain close to the main station″ for the holiday, Thompson said.
Some Indiana communities also called off fireworks displays, but rescheduled them for later in the summer in hopes of rain.
″We are having as lot of postponements. You may be seeing shows from now until Halloween,″ said Ross Perri, vice president of Princess Fireworks Inc. of Mishawaka, Ind.
The danger of fireworks and the drought was obvious Saturday to Jim Wagner, who operates a fireworks stand in Roseland, Ind. He had to put out a grass fire less than 50 yards from his stand when someone threw a lit smoke bomb.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has warned hunters that game animals may suffer long-range effects of the prolonged hot, dry weather.
″We don’t want to paint an entirely bleak picture, but people should be prepared to face the harsh reality that some things will be different,″ said Ged Petit, information officer for the state agency.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already instructed Tennessee and Kentucky to cut duck hunting bag limits from four ducks to two. And the daily bag limit for squirrels has been reduced from 10 to six.
″I’ve been in the business 25 years and until the other day I’d never seen a squirrel drinking water in my bird bath,″ Petit said. ″That showed me it’s bad.″