AUSTIN — The Texas A&M Forest Service assisted local fire departments in 60 wildfires over the last week and expects fireworks to add to the ongoing demands on firefighters.
“This year, we’re running fires every day across Texas,” Phillip Truitt, state public information officer with Texas A&M Forest Service, said. “Especially if you get up in North Texas, there are fires right now going in Palo Pinto County, Central Texas in the Hill Country.”
“It’s hot, dry and windy every day,” Truitt continued.”
This Fourth of July period, several counties have enacted burn bans. Burn bans don’t apply to fireworks under state law.
However, in June, Potter County voted to not allow the use of certain fireworks, like skyrockets with sticks or missiles with fins. According to the Texas Association of Counties, state law allows the commissioners court to adopt an order regulating certain fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county when there are drought conditions and it must be adopted before June 15.
“We’re doing it for their safety – the safety of the people out in the county that don’t want their property burned up,” Judge Nancy Tanner said. “I don’t blame them.”
In Travis County, certain fireworks vendors have decided to voluntarily not sell missiles with fins and stick rockets as well.
Jennifer Walker with the National Wildlife Federation says the ongoing drought is also a reminder of how Texans need to conserve water.
“Most of the state is in some form of drought or dryness and we need to be mindful about that and start responding to drought before the impacts really start to hit,” Walker said.
It’s also unclear what weather conditions Texas will experience for the rest of summer.
“Is it going to be like this all summer and we’re going to have a big impact to our water supplies or are we going to get a tropical system and it’s going to rain?” Walker said.
Truitt urges Texans who plan to use fireworks to be aware of their surroundings.
“People are off,” he said. “They’ll be outside grilling, barbecuing and doing all these activities that bring people outdoors. That’s just going to give us a higher chance for wildfires. Make sure the grass around you is not dry. Make sure you’re avoiding areas that have a lot of woods in them. If you’re going to have open flames, just make sure you’re looking around.”