Are Bottle Rockets a Serious Fire Danger?

Be careful when you celebrate this Independence Day.

Bottle rockets and fireworks on ground
Getty ImagesMartin Diebel

A neighbor sets off bottle rockets every July 4 that land in our yard. Should I be worried about possible fires?—Robert W., Peoria, Illinois

Yes. Every year bottle rockets are the source of house fires. I had a close call with this several years ago, when I found a handful of charred leaves in a gutter. Probing deeper into the mess, I found the remains of a bottle rocket. But it could have been worse: Another neighbor found a copper-jacketed .45-caliber slug lodged in his roof.

One option is to go see your neighbor about the problem. You might even leave them with some printouts from the web. Search phrases like, “bottle rocket lands on roof, sparking house fire.” There’s no shortage of these. The other editors here tell me that this approach has one small drawback: Apparently it makes you look like a fun-smothering killjoy.

Maybe try this instead: As late as possible on July 4, wet down your yard and garden areas with a sprinkler. Take in materials like outdoor cushions and close patio umbrellas and awnings. Use a hose to soak your firewood pile, if you have one. Finally, clean dry debris like leaves, pine needles, and seed pods out of gutters and off roof valleys and shallow-pitched roofs such as over screened-in porches. It’s easy to do with a leaf blower. After that, all you have to do is try to enjoy the show.


This appears in the July/August 2018 issue.

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