With a unanimous vote, 4-0 vote, the Wharton County Commissioners Court banned the sale of aerial fireworks in the county for the June-July sale period due to excessive drought. Commissioner Bud Graves was absent.
This ban includes “skyrockets with sticks” and “missiles with fins.”
Wharton County’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index hit 587 Monday, setting the county well over the necessary 500 to declare a burn ban and over the 575 limit necessary to limit fireworks in the county.
Emergency services personnel said they are glad the court is prioritizing safety this year as the drought continues.
“I want complete transparency on what this fireworks ban is about and it is put in place for the safety of the Wharton County citizens and property. Please be safe, hydrated and have a great 4th of July weekend,” Wharton County Emergency Management Coordinator Russell McDougall said Tuesday.
“It’s a very good idea because everything is dry, there’s no rain in the forecast. When it comes to other fireworks, people should be cautious ... everyone should be safe. If you’re going to pop fireworks, stay away from buildings or any dry place that could catch fire,” El Campo Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy George Jr. said Monday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts little, if any, rain in the coming weeks that would help depress the KBDI moving into Independence Day.
Residents caught in violation of the court’s order could be convicted of a Class C misdemeanor which could result in a $500 fine.
The county uses the state’s zero to 800 point KBDI to determine the potential for wildfire and the necessity of restrictions on outdoor burning in rural areas. At zero, the ground can’t take any more water and at 800 no moisture can be found in soil. At 500, it is considered in extreme wildfire danger.