Eagle Editorial Board

What is July 4 without fireworks? Safer, particularly in these dangerously dry times. Even the welcome rain of last week wasn't enough to make the use of fireworks safe throughout most of the state.

It is so dry that even professional fireworks shows are being canceled. It is far better to be safe than sorry, as the good people of Grimes County learned last week when an outdoor barbecue apparently started a blaze that destroyed some 30 homes, 35 other structures and consumed more than 5,600 acres. Thank heavens for the rain we did get.

In an effort to avert another devastating blaze, commissioners courts in Brazos and other counties have banned all fireworks this July 4 weekend. Fireworks have been banned within the College Station and Bryan city limits for many years, but this year the entire county is included.

That doesn't mean that the night skies won't be lit up with patriotic fervor. Independence Day celebrations at the George Bush Library and at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site -- where Texas' independence was born -- will include spectacular laser light shows that are sure to thrill those in attendance. Best viewing will be on the grounds of both venues as the shows won't be clearly visible from surrounding streets.

Organizers of both events are working hard to make sure the nation's birthday celebration is as wonderful as always, and they deserve a round of thanks for addressing the safety issue in a quick and responsible manner.

That leaves the rest of us. As much as we enjoy those sparklers and bottle rockets, it simply isn't safe to use them -- and it also is illegal in many areas, including all of Brazos County. If you must have fireworks, they can be seen on TV from the nation's capital, from Boston, from New York City and from many other places. But why not turn off the TV and take the family out to the Bush Library or Washington-on-the-Brazos?

If you do decide to cook out over the holiday weekend, be sure to do so as safely as possible. Make sure you have buckets of water or a garden hose handy if any sparks fly. And please, please do not leave the fire unattended, even for a moment.

We all must do everything we can to prevent fires that can quickly get out of hand in this dry, hot summer that is expected to get worse.

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