This Independence Day, many firefighters will be spending the holiday battling massive blazes in Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, not to mention smaller fires elsewhere.

Conditions are so dry across the West that wildfires are being started by, among other things, overheated cars, people firing guns and heavy-equipment operators. The Times spoke with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell about how to handle the increased risks.

What’s being done this season to reduce fire risks?

Many of our national forests are closed to fireworks. This year, now that we’re facing these especially dry conditions, we’re asking that unless the decision is made on the state level, fireworks are going to be prohibited on public lands in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

This is really focused on the July 4 holiday and whether it will be extended depends on weather conditions.

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