As New Year's Eve approaches, Travis County fire marshal advises against fireworks

With the retail season for fireworks beginning Dec. 20, the Travis County Fire Marshal's Office is asking residents to keep safety in mind while using fireworks or to refrain from using them altogether.

There is not an official ban on all fireworks, according to spokeswoman Lisa Block. However, the Travis County Commissioners Court recently restricted the use and sale of two types of fireworks—rockets with sticks and missiles with fins—in unincorporated parts of Travis County to prevent wildfires. In Travis County, there is also a burn ban in place until Jan. 9.

"Dry vegetation, high winds and low humidity increase our chances of experiencing wildfire, and fireworks could provide the spark that starts a fire," Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee said in a news release. "We ask that you refrain from using fireworks due to these conditions. If you insist on using fireworks, please follow recommended safety precautions."

The National Weather Service in Austin and San Antonio issued a red flag warning Dec. 19. As of the time of the warning, local wind speeds are ranging from 15 to 25 miles per hour, humidity is 15 percent to 20 percent, and any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly, according to the NWS.

If residents want to use fireworks, Lee suggests keeping water nearby; keeping fireworks away from children; and using a flat surface away from leaves, grass and buildings while lighting fireworks. The sale and use of fireworks are not allowed within Austin city limits.