AUSTIN, Texas — Due to worsening drought conditions around the Central Texas area, some county officials are putting a damper on Fourth of July celebrations out of an abundance of caution.
Williamson County announced that it will not be selling two types of fireworks products, including stick rockets and missiles with fins or rudders.
“Williamson County is urging everyone to use extreme caution this Independence Day so that everyone has a safe holiday. To that end, we have worked in collaboration with the Texas Pyrotechnic Association and American Fireworks, Williamson County’s largest retailer, to enhance fire safety through this decision to voluntarily not sell stick rockets and missiles with fins or rudders. These products pose the greatest risk of fire danger,” said County Judge Bill Gravell.
“For the 50-plus years I have been in the fireworks business, Williamson County has been very good to me. It is important for us to do the right thing now,” said Chester Davis, president of the Texas Pyrotechnics Association and owner of American Fireworks. “We urge everyone in Williamson County to celebrate Independence Day safely and responsibly.”
Most jurisdictions around Texas have city ordinances prohibiting the use of fireworks within or near city limits. For more details on Williamson County's zone, click here. Officials said fireworks sales there begin on June 24.
In Travis County, the Texas Pyrotechnic Association also voluntarily agreed to not sell certain products in the county.
"I appreciate the Texas Pyrotechnics Association recognizing the elevated fire risk due to drought conditions and applaud their voluntary agreement to not sell stick rockets and missiles with fins or rudders in Travis County," said Travis County Judge Andy Brown. "I urge the public to be extra cautious while celebrating the July Fourth holiday. With drought conditions only worsening, we must do everything we can to protect our community. Our Fire Marshal and his deputies will continue monitoring conditions and patrolling our county, ready to enforce any and all applicable laws."
The Austin Fire Department said it will have special enforcement teams out across the city on July 4, as well as several days before and after. Anyone caught in possession of illegal fireworks could be cited with a fine between $528 and $2,000.
"If we find those fireworks contributed to a fire, criminal charges could be pursued," the department said.
A burn ban is in effect in both Williamson and Travis counties.
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