CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — Fireworks officially go on sale Friday even though Central Texas counties are largely under burn bans due to drought conditions. Travis County’s chief fire marshal recently compared conditions to 2011, which was catastrophic for Central Texas communities.
In Travis County, a burn ban does not restrict the sale and use of fireworks but Travis County commissioners have the ability to impose a fireworks ban, according to Travis County’s website.
That won’t happen this year because the county did not hit the requirements set forward by state law, according to Travis County Public Information Officer Hector Nieto.
“The statute provides that the order must be adopted before June 15 for the Fourth of July fireworks selling season,” Nieto said. “However, the County first must determine whether it will fall within drought conditions immediately preceding or during the fireworks season.”
Travis County did not hit those drought requirements, which are set by the Texas Forestry Service, Nieto explained. The forest service uses the Keetch-Byram Drought Index to determine the drought level required to implement the fireworks ban. Counties have to be at a KBDI average of 575 or higher. Nieto said as of June 13, Travis County was averaging a KBDI of 435.
The burn ban does restrict the following in unincorporated parts of the county:
- Burning any combustible material outside of an enclosure which contains all flames and/or sparks
- Engaging in any activity outdoors that could allow flames or sparks that could result in a fire unless done in an enclosure designed to protect the spread of fire
You could face a misdemeanor charge and a fine of up to $500 if you don’t follow the rules. You can find KXAN’s burn ban map on our website.
Within Austin city limits, which is not included in Travis County’s burn ban, there are common fireworks that are allowed, according to the city’s website.
- Snakes and GlowWorms
- Smoke bombs
- Wire sparklers
- Noisemakers such as party poppers or snappers
“The Austin Fire Department has a presence on the streets, and the Fire Marshal’s Office still issues citations for violating the fireworks ordinance, and vigorously prosecuted persons responsible for starting fires as a result of fireworks,” the city said on its website.