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Drought conditions in West Texas cause firework restrictions

Dry conditions in West Texas have caused many areas to put a restrictions to fireworks this Fourth of July.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Independence Day is celebrated with gatherings, barbecues and fireworks. While many people look forward to the Fourth of July holiday to watch fireworks displays, these explosives can become a major fire risk. 

“So these fireworks, you know you're basically using a small explosive right so it’s going to go up and explode and kind of shoot hot debris everywhere,” Texas A&M Forest Service Regional Wildland Urban Interface Coordinator, Adam Turner, said. 

He said the biggest threat is when fireworks don't have a high amount of fall time and don't cool down before reaching the ground. These turn into ignition sources on dry surfaces especially in drought areas like Tom Green County.

“Tom Green County is in an exceptional drought, so that is the highest state of drought that the national weather service puts out and it has been for quite a significant time,” Turner said. 

As a result, in Tom Green County there are restrictions and a burn ban is in effect, which limits the type of fireworks allowed. 

“On June 24, Judge Floyd declared a disaster order through the commissioners court and then on June 29, Gov. Abbott ratified that so in between that timeframe from July.. I’m sorry June, we received a little bit of precipitation in the county, so the judge amended that to prohibit sticks, fins and rudder fireworks,” Tom Green County Director of Operations, Nate Southard, said. 

In an effort to reduce the risk of starting a fire, these restrictions were implemented. Southard explained what exactly is prohibited. 

“Well I guess the easiest way to think about it would be fireworks that are shot into the sky because what that amounts to is additional fire risks,” Southard said. 

Violating the fireworks restriction is a Class C misdemeanor and punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000. However, people can still enjoy a fireworks display sanctioned and protected by professionals. 

“Anytime there’s a professional show put on it’s been sanctioned by the marshal and they will have fire department presence on hand and to speak to that for other professional shows out in the county those are also evaluated on a case by case scenario by the volunteer fire department in that area,” Southard said. 

There are several commercial firework displays planned for the independence day weekend in Tom Green County. For a full list of events, visit foxwtx.com.

RELATED: No, the Fourth of July hasn’t always been a holiday



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