While the risk factors for wildfires may be at its lowest point in approximately seven years, local fire officials are urging residents to be careful if they plan to include fireworks in their Independence Day celebrations, as the risk of injury is still a major concern.
According to Howard County Volunteer Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan, recent rain and favorable weather conditions have the risk level in the county at low-medium going into the holiday.
“These are probably the best conditions we've seen in about seven years,” Sullivan said. “There is still some fuel — mostly under the green ground-cover we're seeing — but it poses considerably less of a risk. It will still catch fire, however, it usually causes spot fires that people can easily put out themselves without rolling a fire engine.”
While the risk of causing a wildfire is considerably lower this holiday, Sullivan said it doesn't diminish the risk of personal injuries.
“Just use common sense,” Sullivan said firmly. “A sparkler burns at around 2,000 degrees, which can easily cause third degree burns. Is it really a good idea to hand one to your 2- or 3-year-old child? Use extreme caution and make sure you have a cell phone nearby, that way if something goes wrong you can call for emergency services.”
Sullivan said it's important for residents to know where they can't — and can't — legally set off their fireworks.
“It's a bit confusing, but setting off fireworks in the roadway isn't actually illegal. However, if you do and get caught, you're going to get a ticket — not for shooting fireworks, but instead a $200 ticket for littering,” Sullivan said. “That's something we've been trying to get corrected for years. If you get caught shooting your fireworks in a roadway, however, don't expect the officer or deputy to have a sense of humor about it.”
Big Spring Fire Marshall Carl Condray said there should be no confusion regarding where it's legal to set off fireworks in the Big Spring city limits.
“It's never legal to set off fireworks in the city limits, regardless of bans or restrictions,” Condray said. “It is against the law to discharge fireworks in the city limits. If you’re going to light fireworks you need to find a place in the county that you have access to and have permission to be there, especially if it is on private property.”