by KOLTEN PARKER
As a result of Central Texas’ dehydrated weather conditions, Hays County extended a burn ban on Tuesday and prohibited the use of bottle rockets and similar aerial fireworks ahead of the July 4 holiday.
Hays and 208 other counties of the state’s 254 are under an outdoor fire ban. The commissioners court on Tuesday voted to extend the Hays burn ban for 90 days unless weather conditions improve.
Hays County, which has been under the ban since last December except for a brief window in April, has a Keetch-Byram Drought Index of 698 out of 800, said County Fire Marshal Mark Chambers. He said the number could climb to above 750 by July 4 if Hays County does not receive rain.
On Tuesday, a grassfire blazed for about 20 minutes in the western Hays County subdivision of Belterra, damaging about 12 acres of vegetation, said Dripping Springs Fire Chief David Griffin. Although the fire did not damage any homes, it demonstrated the potential danger wild fires pose in the dry conditions, fire officials said.
Pct. 3 Commissioner Will Conley said he is familiar with the devastation of wild fires.
“I have had to stand in a neighborhood with the residents, watching everything they have worked for burn to the ground right in front of them,” Conley said. “I would rather be known as the ‘Grinch’ who took away fireworks than to allow a neighborhood and community to be destroyed.”
Local businessman Chester Davis, who owns multiple fireworks stands in Hays County, said he supports the county’s decision to ban the aerial fireworks that have the highest potential to spark a wildfire.
“Sticks and missiles are only a small percentage of our sales,” Davis said. “These types of fireworks are the most dangerous because they are difficult to control after being lit and they land the farthest distance away from the shooter,” Davis said.
Most counties in Central Texas, including Travis and Williamson, have banned the sale of all fireworks for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations as well as cancelling public firework displays.
However Kerry Urbanowicz, director of Kyle Parks and Recreation, said public firework displays in Kyle, Buda, San Marcos and Lockhart are scheduled to continue as planned.
Urbanowicz said Kyle’s annual firework display is safe because it is supervised by professional pyrotechnicians. He added that the new location at the Plum Creek golf course is ideal because grass is kept short and watered frequently.
Residents who violate the restriction of the use of bottle rockets can face a Class C misdemeanor citation with up to a $500 fine.Email | Print