Disney suspected of causing more wildifres

- Emergency workers believe that Disney's fireworks are causing more brush fires in Central Florida.

Emergency workers say that they have battled more brush fires than normal because of the fireworks from Disney's Hollywood Studios.

President of the Reedy Creek Fire & Rescue IAFF Local 2117 Tim Stromsnes believes that the new staging area for the fireworks is contributing to the problem. 

"The problem here is it's a new site in the woods and they didn't clear enough land,"  stated Stromsnes. He went onto to say that there also are not enough sprinklers in the area.

Brush fires are of particular concern right now because of the extremely dry conditions. Like many counties, Orange County has put a burn ban into effect. That forbids the use or discharge of fireworks "exclusive of permitted aerial fireworks shows" such as the theme parks put on, Orange County Fire Rescue spokeswoman Kat Kennedy said. The wildfires have grown to be quite an issue for firefighters though, especially with how often they occur. 

"It's taxing our staff," Stromsnes said. "We've been out there for hours upon hours with multiple fires going on" - about 30 in the past two months.

Stromses says he "routinely has conversations with Disney and the other operators within the District about the impact, if any, of their various activities." Disney claims to periodically modify fireworks shows, including the type, size and quantity used based on weather conditions. The company said it has done so as recently as last week, but a spokeswoman didn't have information about whether any changes are planned for the site itself.

Disney World has suspended campfires at its resorts to comply with the burn ban.

"How can people not cook hot dogs and hamburgers and have a fire at Fort Wilderness, but can keep shooting off fireworks and causing multiple brush fires?" Stromsnes said.

Stromsnes does not want to end the pyrotechnics, but he believes more should be done to mitigate the fire danger.

The State Division of Forestry helped contain a blaze caused by fireworks on the property, which burned up to an acre and a half in late March.

"The firemen are always out there just in case. It happens," said Duncan Dickson, a former executive at the resort who now teaches at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management. "Most of the time the sparks, the fireworks are out by the time they hit the ground, but you do have times when they aren't."

Disney suspended its fireworks shows in 1998 when wildfires raged in Central Florida.

Fireworks shows are one of the hallmarks of Disney World. 

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