The dry weather is sparking concerns about fireworks safety as the July 4 holiday approaches.
But, as the Indiana State Fire Marshal's office notes, it is not just the pyrotechnics that pose a threat.
Marshal Jim Greeson warns activities such as firework, cookouts and bonfires over the Fourth of July holiday can cause sizable fires.
"In these dry conditions, fires can ignite and spread very quickly. Know if a burn ban restriction affects your area and always use caution when handling anything that produces heat or could produce a spark, especially fireworks," Greeson said.
Saturday's rain was not expected to alleviate parched conditions over the next 10 days.
Any decision to restrict or prohibit fireworks or to issue a burn ban because of dry conditions rests with local fire chiefs or municipalities.
While the dry conditions concern fire officials in communities such as Hobart, Schererville and Hammond, there are no immediate plans to ban fireworks.
Bob Patterson, Schererville's fire chief, said using fireworks during dry weather is always a concern, but he isn't aware of any plan to restrict fireworks beyond current rules.
Police in Hobart, Hammond, Cedar Lake and Lake Station say they will enforce local and state ordinances.
"If the weather stays like it is, we will be strictly enforcing the ordinance that we have on the books," Cedar Lake Police Chief Randall Mayersky said.
Hobart Police Chief Jeff White, who has voiced similar concerns, said his department is taking a zero-tolerance stance on anyone shooting fireworks outside of designated times and dates.
"Fireworks complaints in May have already surpassed this period for 2011. While fireworks sales are legal in Indiana, the use of those fireworks is restricted to specific dates and times," White said.
The state ordinance, which most communities follow, says consumer fireworks are to be used only from 5 to 10 p.m. June 29 through July 3, 10 a.m. to midnight July 4, 5 to 10 p.m. July 5 through 9 and 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
The state fire marshal offers the following dry weather fire safety tips:
- Store fireworks in a cool, dry area.
- When using fireworks, always have a fire extinguisher, water supply, hose or bucket of water nearby.
- Be cautious when lighting fireworks when it is windy and avoid lighting fireworks on or near dry grass, fields, shrubs or other vegetation.
- If fireworks do ignite a fire, contact your local fire department or 911 immediately. Do not attempt to extinguish a large fire by yourself.
Times Staff Writers Chas Reilly, Joyce Russell and Chelsea Schneider Kirk contributed to the report.