County urges caution during July 4 firework celebration

Hot dogs, cookouts, American flags and a lot of fireworks all combine for a classic American Fourth of July experience. But, with a burn ban in full effect for Hays County, dry weather conditions could pose a fire threat to the upcoming Independence Day celebration.

As the summer season continues to progress, less and less rainfall will cause dry conditions, perfect for fueling fires, specifically near high grass and cedar trees.

Despite the burn ban, outdoor grilling is allowed with a lid. However, open fires, burn barrels, fires at Hays County Parks and fire pits are prohibited.

“While the drought index was below the threshold for banning fireworks with sticks and fins by the deadline of June 15, please remember that much of our environment is very dry, and grass and brush fires ignite easily,” Hays County Fire Marshal Clint Browning said. “If you plan to set off fireworks of any kind, be sure that there is a water source nearby, and that all fireworks litter is cleaned up and placed in a safe, fireproof container or doused in water before you leave the area.”

Across the county, hundreds of citizens will make their way to seasonal firework vendors which opened their doors during the last weekend in June. These vendors will be in operation until July 4.

Kyle Taylor, fire chief for Hays County Emergency District #5, urges citizens to participate in proper etiquette when lighting fireworks by avoiding fields that have not been mowed. Despite rainfall during the week of June 18, Taylor said rainfall could have minimal effect on dry conditions with a constant heat index of over 100 degrees.

The west side of the county did not see any rain during the last shower, Taylor said. There are areas of the county that have stayed dry.

“We will have an uptake in emergency calls during the holiday with small fires around the area,” Taylor said. “People don’t understand that despite some moisture, it is constantly too hot to make a difference. It’s a county-wide burn ban and we need to be vigilant.”

According to the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, in 2016, at least 4 people died and around 11,000 injured after fire-work related accidents, most of prominent during July.

Both Browning and Taylor said having a water source readily available during the holiday celebration is a good way to prevent fires in the case of an accident.

“With our conditions, it is extremely dangerous to light these fireworks,” Taylor said. “But if something does happen, you can put it out quickly if you are aware. Be vigilant.”

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