County approves total ban on fireworks - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

County approves total ban on fireworks

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LUBBOCK COUNTY, TX (KCBD) -

County Commissioners on Monday recommended a total ban on Independence Day fireworks this year.

At the commissioners' request, a county judge will sign a local disaster declaration to ban the use and sale of all fireworks in the county, even by professionals, for 60 hours. Governor Perry will then be asked to extend the order to last 30 days, and he is expected to do so.

The ban is because of the 100 degree heat mixed with the lack of rain, which is a recipe for wildfires. Commissioners say it was an emotional decision given it will shut business down. However, the ban hopes to save lives and property.

"Two firefighters have died as a result from grassfires. Why would we put ourselves in that position to create an animal that possibly could consume another life?" said West Carlisle Fire Chief, Tim Smith.

Lubbock County is currently in the worst drought they have seen in 100 years. More than 2.8 million acres have burned statewide. That's why commissioners say it was necessary to ban the traditional Fourth of July lights.

"The sale and use of fireworks is restricted, completely. We're out of business," said TNT Fireworks Vice President, Jane Johnson.

Some of the firework stands are used for fundraisers, like the Lubbock County softball team. They say they will also be crippled by the decision to ban fireworks.

"The last couple years we've averaged a little over $5,000," said Lubbock-Cooper Head Softball Coach, Landon Winton.

The team says they will go another route and sell Praters food during the holiday season.

"This definitely hurts, but on the other hand a couple fireworks go off and start a bad fire and burn down people's houses then that's a lot worse," said Winton.

Industry professionals say they are taking a big hit and are devastated, but say they understand we are in a severe drought. Even fire departments will lose extra revenue.

"Firework sales have a 2% tax that will go to help volunteer fire departments," said Johnson.

Distributors say they already bought their entire stock last year. So they plan to sell what they have to nearby areas where fireworks are allowed.

Luckily, if it does rain and the grass gets a little greener, Judge Tom Head can rescind the declaration at any time. Until then firefighters encourage others to celebrate our nation's freedom in a different way.

"It doesn't take much wind with this dry field moisture. The fire will take off," said Smith.

If someone is caught using fireworks they face up to $1,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail.

A firework is defined as something that sparks a fire, and items like confetti poppers will be excluded from the ban. Fireworks have already been banned in other Texas cities this year, including Amarillo, Canyon and Houston.

County Commissioners also extended the general burn ban for 90 days.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11. All rights reserved.

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