Community leaders are begging residents to stay away from fireworks this Fourth of July weekend to give fire fighters a much needed break.
While it is illegal to shoot fireworks in Lubbock County and all surrounding counties because of bans, that doesn't always mean people listen, so communities like Levelland are beefing up their law enforcement this holiday weekend.
"We're a small community, small fire department, and if we have two or three fires it will totally wipe us out," said Levelland Police Chief Toney Cowan. "What we're going to do this year is having extra officers on duty, and we'll be making rounds and be specifically looking for firework violations."
Many of the small communities around Lubbock rely on a small number of volunteer fire fighters; Levelland only has 25. Extremely dry conditions with fireworks thrown in the mix could be a disaster waiting to happen for these limited fire departments.
"I've seen years where we've had more rain than we've had this year and we still had numerous fires on the Fourth of July. We're concerned a large number of fires will spread us out all over the county and leave us vulnerable in other spots," said Levelland Fire Chief Otis Stark.
Levelland Mayor Bo Bowman is asking the community to find other ways to celebrate the 4th, and to respect the law and fire fighters this weekend. "It's going to be a long holiday, from Friday through Monday and we don't have enough personnel to spread them that thin, that long," said Bowman. "It just doesn't seem fair to me that the people in our community should even think about jeopardizing the workforce we have."
If caught shooting fireworks in Levelland, violators could face a fine between $500 and $2,000. In Lubbock, violators could be ticketed with a $1,000 or up to 180 days in jail.
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