SHAKER HEIGHTS -- Cities with Fourth of July fireworks shows are taking unusual steps to prevent fires.
In Shaker Heights, they have been trying to keep the launching pad for Wednesday night's show green by pouring more than 30,000 gallons of water a day on the grassy area.
"It is well worth the effort and expense," says Shaker Heights Fire Chief Kevin Jacobs, who tells WKYC the extra watering has been going on since last Friday.
Shaker has a limited launching area for its display, right alongside Shaker Boulevard, just off the jogging path.
The difference between the watered grass and bushes and the brown, withered vegetation was readily apparent. The hope is that any stray sparks or fireworks debris which hit the green zone will have little chance of starting a fire.
Shaker Heights officials will meet with experts from American Fireworks on Tuesday to decide whether conditions will allow them to go through with the Fourth of July celebration. It is expected that sufficient precautions are being taken.
In Strongsville, the city has moved its gigantic fireworks show to the site of what will be new soccer fields, in the recreation area on Foltz Industrial Parkway.
"We have 800 feet of safe zone in every direction from where the shells will be launched," says Assistant Fire Chief Jack Draves. "We will have extra people on duty, and volunteers from our CERT Team will be patrolling the neighborhoods and wooded areas."
Again the concern in Strongsville is that stray sparks or debris do not land in dry areas and start fires. The city expects more than 20,000 people Wednesday night, and has drawn up a 12-page plan to deal with the crowds and possible dangers from weather conditions.
On Monday, one Northeast Ohio city -- Kent -- cancelled its planned fireworks because of the dry conditions. They had been scheduled for next Saturday night. Kent officials said they relied in part on warning from the State Fire Marshal last week.