Many are looking forward to celebrating the Fourth of July in Central Texas. One of the most traditional things to do on Independence Day is to either set off fireworks yourself, or go out to a fireworks show with the family. For those wanting to celebrate by lighting up the sky at their personal homes in Bell County, we've got some tough news - you'll be on the wrong side of the law if you do.

BELL COUNTY DROUGHT DISASTER DECLARATION

Our partners at KWTX report that Bell County Judge David Blackburn talked to the media today to announce the issues facing the area due to the lack of rainfall and hot weather. The Judge stated that 33 wildfires were reported in the past week, while 75 have occurred just in the month of June. Blackburn also discussed the state of Bell County's drought.

Basically, we're under a drought disaster declaration, and under that declaration, the private sale and use of fireworks is now banned.

"The USDM (United States Drought Monitor) shows that 100% of Bell County is abnormally dry, and 70% of Bell County is classified as in severe drought at this time," Judge Blackburn said.

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Blackburn then went on to say that various discussions with fire marshals and the Texas Department of Emergency Management led him to issue a disaster declaration. The declaration is in effect because of the extremely dry conditions in Bell and surrounding counties.

"The body of the declaration, which proclaims and declares, that the sale or use of fireworks in Bell County without a permit issued by the Bell County Fire Marshal is hereby prohibited."

DECLARATION BANS PRIVATE USE, SALE OF FIREWORKS

Judge Blackburn also stated that because of the declaration, "The county's emergency plan is now activated and implemented as a result." This declaration will however not affect public firework shows. As those shows have the resources necessary to make sure no further damage is caused.

When asked what he would say to someone who's upset about this news or was really looking forward to setting off fireworks, Judge Blackburn said, "I would say I'm sorry. I wish weather conditions and ground conditions were different. I enjoy fireworks also, as does my family. So I'm truly sorry about that."

Blackburn said setting off fireworks in these conditions unnecessarily puts people and property in danger.

PUBLIC FIREWORKS SHOWS WILL STILL GO ON

It's not all bad news. If you planned to attend a fireworks show at Ft. Hood, or in Killeen, Belton, or Temple, those shows will still go on because licensed pyrotechnicians and local firefighters will be involved.

 

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