The first few minutes of the New Year may not start off with a bang. KCBD NewsChannel 11 is learning that all fireworks could be banned because of the ongoing drought.
At Monday's county commissioner's meeting, they banned explosives like ‘rockets with sticks and missiles with fins.'
Late Monday night we discovered that a request to ban all fireworks for 30 days from Governor Rick Perry may come as early as Tuesday. Lubbock County Emergency Management Coordinator Clinton Thetford tells us Lubbock County Judge Tom Head plans to sign an emergency disaster declaration Tuesday.
If that happens, all fireworks would be banned for 60 hours until Governor Perry decides whether to extend the request for up to 30 days.
"His intent is to request the governor to give him an extension on that until at least the first of the year," Thetford said.
Firework dealers are only allowed to sell between December 20 and the January 1st. They fear an extension will kill their business for the second time this year. They were already banned from selling 4th of July fireworks because of the historic summer drought.
Jan Johnson at TNT fireworks has never seen a year like 2011.
"This has never happened to me in 35 years of being in the fireworks business, and being through some dry years, I have never been shut down even one season and now we're looking at this year as two seasons potentially," she said.
Johnson understands fireworks pose a risk, but wishes the drought didn't have such a direct impact on her profits.
"They're [fireworks] what you call a no-profit bottom line right now," she joked cautiously.
Thetford insists the ban is for the safety everyone in the county. According to the latest drought index, Lubbock falls in one of the worst areas in Texas.
"We haven't seen these drought conditions in 100 years," Thetford said.
Johnson was prepared for Monday's decision to ban certain types of fireworks. If Head signs the disaster declaration Johnson says popular items like fire crackers, roman candles, and sparklers would be banned.
"It's just a tinder box out there." Thetford warned. Thetford says the effects from recent rainfall don't last long.
"One good day of west Texas wind would dry all of that vegetation out very quickly," he said.
Though Lubbock has received more moisture, conditions are still severe enough to warrant another total ban on fireworks. A second ban for Johnson would mean no sales all year.
"Obviously if you don't have sales you don't have profits," Johnson said.
The unanimous solution is rain, but with uncertainty in the forecast, Thetford & other officials must minimize risk for the citizens of the county.
"It just takes one of those fires to cause a disaster. We're just trying to avoid a disaster like the one in Bastrop County," Thetford said.
Johnson says she'll look to next year, joining the growing number of industries who continue to lose without help from Mother Nature.
"We're ready to move [products], if we don't move we we'll just have to disassemble orders and put it into our stock and hope for July," she said.
If Judge Head does sign the disaster declaration, he could rescind the motion at anytime if conditions improved to allow for the safe use and sale of fireworks.
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