The use and sale of two types of fireworks—missiles with fins and skyrockets with sticks—will not be allowed in Harris County from Dec. 20–Jan. 1, per a vote Dec. 4 by commissioners court. While it is typically legal to sell fireworks in Texas during this 13 day stretch, worsening drought conditions led to the decision to ban them this year.
When the drought index reaches a certain threshold, commissioners court can enact different preventions, ranging from a burn ban to a ban on fireworks.
“The drought index is about 400 points higher than it normally is this time of year,” said Mike Montgomery, county fire marshal. “This is a precautionary measure.”
There are no plans for a fireworks ban this season in unincorporated Montgomery County, according to the Montgomery County Fire Marshall’s office. Fireworks are prohibited within The Woodlands Township and within Magnolia city limits, as well as other cities, but remain legal in unincorporated areas.
The drought index operates on a scale of 0–800 with 800 indicating completely dry soil. As of Dec. 9, 14-day projections show the index hovering around 611 in Harris County and 614 in Montgomery County. If Harris County’s index drops below the threshold of 575, the ban will be automatically rescinded, Montgomery said. The index was around 700 when city organized firework shows in Tomball, Magnolia and The Woodlands were cancelled in July 2011.
It is still legal to sell and use other types of fireworks apart from the two types that were banned. Violation of the ban is a class C misdemeanor with fines of up to $500.