County’s fireworks attract thousands

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Heat wave, drought stifle backyard displays

By Tracy Harris

The Fourth of July holiday was a dud last week in some Kentucky cities, including Prospect, where officials worried fireworks combined with dry conditions could set fires.

Prospect Mayor Tom Eberle canceled the Prospect “Boomsday” celebration just hours before the event started, citing extreme heat and overly dry conditions.

Other places in Kentucky banned personal use of fireworks altogether because of drought conditions, including Lexington, where police issued 21 citations and received 608 complaints.

Elsewhere in Oldham County, residents celebrated the holiday as usual.

The annual celebration at Wendell Moore Park drew a large crowd of people, according to Oldham County Parks and Recreation Director Tim Curtis.

“This was the biggest crowd I’ve seen in my 11 years here,” he said. “I just can’t begin to guess at a number.”

This year, the high temperature on July 4 hit 99 degrees. At 10 p.m., it was about 91 degrees with a heat index of 94 degrees.

Compare that to 2011’s Independence Day, where the temperature topped at 85 degrees and dropped to 78 degrees by 10 p.m. 

Even in 2010 — the third-hottest summer in Louisville’s history — the high temperature was 92 degrees and down to 86 degrees at 10 p.m.

Holiday festivities were fairly quiet, with no serious emergencies responded to by police or fire departments.

Oldham County Police responded to seven fireworks complaints on July 4 and 5, said spokesperson Sarah King, along with three party complaints. 

La Grange Police Chief Kevin Collett said his department had 12 noise complaints during the holiday week. 

Despite worries about dry conditions, local fire departments reported only one fireworks-related call in Oldham County.

Several acres of grass burned near the Cardinal Harbor boat ramp July 7, according to Don Dahl, North Oldham Fire Department assistant chief. He said fireworks were the likely cause.

NOFD did respond to a Goshen house fire June 28 that Dahl believes was caused by fireworks. 

The Oldham County Arson Task Force found firework debris around the property in the 10400 block of U.S. 42. Dahl said the cause remains under investigation but the most likely scenario is that fireworks landed in a planter containing dried vegetation and set it ablaze.

Damage to the interior of the home was minimal, Dahl said.

The Louisville metro area is currently the only portion of the state not considered in a drought. Oldham, Jefferson, Trimble, Henry and Shelby counties are considered “abnormally dry.” As of July 3, 27 counties are on a water shortage watch list.

Oldham County does remain under a total burn ban, issued June 28 by Judge-Executive David Voegele.

The ban includes burning for agricultural and recreational purposes.