Fireworks vendors voluntarily pull some products before Fourth of July

Three representatives from the local fireworks industry say they have voluntarily pulled from their stands missiles, rockets and fireworks with wings because of dry weather conditions.

Travis County is currently under a burn ban, but that does not affect the use and purchase of fireworks for the Fourth of July holiday.

During the July 3 Travis County Commissioners Court meeting, Fire Marshal Hershel Lee said the combination of drought and relative humidity may cause fires to start easily.

"To my knowledge, we have never had a major fireworks [caused] fire, and I don't want one," said Tex-Mart Fireworks owner Zachary Stearns. "Prohibition does not work in this country. But regulation and education of the public [does]."

A representative from vendor American Fireworks urged consumers to follow the printed instructions on fireworks and to use the products safely.

Commissioner Karen Huber thanked the fireworks industry for working with county officials and for spending time explaining safety measures to customers.

Lee said he had been asked why the county did not partially ban fireworks this year. The county's drought index would have had to have been above a certain level before June 15, and it was below that level, he said.

County Judge Samuel T. Biscoe could ban fireworks through a local disaster declaration, but the judge would need to believe there was an imminent threat of wildfire, Lee said.

Travis County Emergency Services District No. 6, Lake Travis Fire Rescue, plans to have additional fire trucks and brush trucks available for the holiday.

The sale and use of fireworks is allowed in unincorporated areas of Travis County, but not in county parks. Fireworks are prohibited inside Austin city limits.

In the same meeting, the fire marshal recommended that the county keep the current burn ban in place.

For residents who plan to barbecue July 4, he recommended using enclosed grills and disposing of solid fuels, such as wood or charcoal, in a safe manner. He said to completely douse the fuels in water and make sure they are cold and wet prior to discarding them.

"Every year, people throw charcoals into [the trash], and people lose homes because of it. Be careful," he said.

For more information on fireworks safety and the Travis County burn ban, visit www.co.travis.tx.us/fire_marshal/



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