Drought conditions and increased fire hazards have led McLennan County officials to ban the sale and use of fireworks of the firing rate until Independence Day in unincorporated parts of the county.
Commissioners voted in favor of the partial ban on June 7 and will consider a county-wide burn ban at its meeting next Tuesday that would ban all types of fireworks. Fireworks of all kinds are still illegal within the boundaries of the city of Waco and most other cities, except for professional exhibitions.
A 10-acre wildfire near Bellmead this week highlighted the fire hazards in the current weather conditions, with highs of 99 forecast for Friday and Saturday and 100 or more most next week.
The Waco-McLennan County Office of Emergency Management will recommend a county-wide burn ban, Director Elizabeth Thomas said Thursday, noting that the Bellmead fire and the designation of the Texas A&M Forest Service much of the county is in stages 3 and 4 of drought.
These stages produce a lot of vegetation in dry conditions that easily provide fuel for fires, said Forest Service spokeswoman Kiley Moran.
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“Even with the rain we’ve received over the last month, the vegetation is still dry and what turned green is becoming receptive to the fire,” Moran said in an email Thursday to the Tribune-Herald. “With the high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds we have been experiencing, the risk of forest fires caused by fireworks is high.”
The Bellmead fire threatened 55 homes and consumed 10 acres before it was contained, Moran said in a press release Wednesday. Forest service provided personnel, an excavator and a fire truck along with “many other engines and support vehicles (and firefighters) to the Bellmead, Lacy Lakeview and Waco scene,” Moran wrote.
Thomas said state law allows commissioners’ courts to temporarily ban fireworks like this one during holidays such as Independence Day and the New Year in which people often use consumer fireworks in their celebrations.
“Fireworks are a lot of fun,” Thomas said. “Forest fires and rubbish fires, like yesterday’s Bellmead, are not.”
The temporary ban on fireworks applies to unincorporated areas of the county for sale and any use of consumer fireworks that produce a stream of flame at one end, often called “firing,” Thomas said. ‘order of the commissioner.
Small fireworks devices that comply with U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regulations and are classified as permitted under the Texas Code of Occupations continue to be permitted in areas not incorporated under the U.S. court of June 7th. That, however, would be banned under a burning ban, Thomas said.
In the past, county burn bans have not affected July 4 professional fireworks shows, as they are held in controlled areas, Waco spokeswoman Monica Sedelmeier of fire department staff wrote Thursday. in a text message.
Representatives of major consumer fireworks vendors, Mr. W Fireworks, did not respond to questions from the Tribune-Herald by phone call about how these bans would affect the “dispersed” in their business.