PARKER COUNTY, Texas — The dry weather in Texas is having an impact on who will be allowed to discharge fireworks at home.
There are serious concerns in some Texas counties that fireworks will lead to brush fires. That hasn't slowed down firework sales at vendors like Alamo Fireworks throughout North Texas. Customers are stocking up with plans to light up the sky in some cases.
Alamo Customer Ray Smith is affectionately known as Chop and he spent Friday afternoon buying all kinds of fireworks for his family, especially his children. He plans to celebrate Independence Day chopping it up with family and friends.
"We have a lot of family come out, a lot of family come out from California, from Texas," said Ray 'Chop' Smith. "I am from Arkansas, so we have people come out."
All over Texas, Alamo is selling every firework imaginable. In some cases, the products they sell not only come with "how to use" instructions but also warnings for safety purposes.
There are fireworks designed just for adults to discharge as well as kid-friendly products. Fireworks will be a big part of Mike Harmon's family gathering on July 4.
Mike Harmon said, "Just family gathering, get time to spent with family, couldn't get together without my kids who love to see fireworks, so I had to get stuff for them."
But this is also the time of year Parker County Fire Marshal Sean Hughes is on the edge of his seat.
The last thing he wants is for his office to have to investigate a fire where someone gets injured or worse. Hughes is concerned about how dry the weather has been in Parker County making things more vulnerable for wild brush fires.
"In Parker County, we're very, very dry," said Sean Hughes.
The dry weather mixed with carelessness or someone accidentally igniting grass or brush has Parker County fire officials sounding the alarm.
Fire Marshal Sean Hughes has been granted a county-wide Fireworks Ban from now through Sept. 6. That means no discharging fireworks at home Hughes says because of what can happen.
"When fireworks are sent into the air, of course, there's a trail of sparks," said Hughes. "There's the display, and then there's the aftereffects of the display and a lot of times, those carry sparks and embers, and they fall."
Getting caught discharging fireworks in Parker County can land you a $1,000 fine and have your stash confiscated. But more importantly, Hughes and his staff are more concerned about preventing injuries due to out-of-control fires started by fireworks.
"Really, one of the last things that we consider is what started it as fire marshals," said Sean Hughes. "I've got 38 years in the fire service. Our first concern is safety, life safety, getting the incident stabilized, and then protecting additional property. But when we get these calls, the first thing that's on our mind is where is it?"
Fireworks stand workers expect to be busy over the holiday weekend. While the restrictions are in effect in Parker County, Alamo customers come from all over Texas to buy fireworks. Discharge ban or no discharge ban many families already have safety plans in place.
"The kids don't set off any fireworks at all. We leave that to dad and the adults," said Mike Harmon.
Smith said, "We keep the buckets on deck and make sure it never catches on fire."
Fire Marshal Sean Hughes stressed their goal is not to issue citations to people for discharging fireworks or taking away their stash, but instead to make sure that no one ends up injured because of flames ignited from a firework.
Hughes also warned that anyone that causes a fire or injury can be held liable, so avoiding the danger altogether is best.
Anyone who witnesses fireworks being discharged in Parker County before Sept. 6, 2022, can report it to the Fireworks Ban Violation Hot Line at 682-333-0002.