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Swiss regions limit NYE fireworks over fire risk

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Photo: Falcon® Photography/Flickr
17:15 CET+01:00
The lack of rain and snow in Switzerland is not just affecting winter tourism, it has also meant restrictions and even bans on the use of fireworks across the country because of the risk of forest fires.

In some parts of Switzerland, such as the eastern canton of Graubünden and the southern canton of Ticino, a complete ban on any fireworks has been introduced in many zones, affecting city centres through to community firework displays.

And in other areas, fireworks are only allowed to be used with special permission.

In Switzerland the restrictions include a complete ban on fire anywhere other than built-up areas and in snow covered regions such as glacier fields or mountaintops. The famous Saint Moritz New Year's Eve fireworks display is one of those to be cancelled in Switzerland.

Experts warn that the extremely dry grass and woodland could quickly turn into a raging fire despite the cold weather, because of the lack of rainfall this winter.

The ban on fireworks is another hit for ski resorts already struggling to attract visitors due to the lack of snow. The news that they are not only unable to ski, but will also have to give up on their New Year fireworks is a further dampener on the holiday spirit.

Last Saturday, a small fire broke out on a meadow in St-Luc in Valais, where authorities have called for caution. The fire was successfully contained thanks to the quick intervention of firefighters.

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In January 2014, new legislation was introduced requiring anyone working with the most powerful type of fireworks to take a week's course costing 5,000 francs ($5,537) and pass the exam at the end to gain a ‘B permit'. 

The new rules have seen many communes scale back their displays to simpler shows that require a lower level of training, due to the cost of the permit. 

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