MCLENNAN COUNTY, Texas — Bosque County issued a disaster declaration Monday morning, joining a number of Central Texas counties that are banning the sale or use of fireworks.
Judge Cindy Vanlandingham said on Facebook, "I have declared that a state of disaster exists in Bosque County due to the extremely dry and windy conditions. Bosque County has experienced numerous wildfires recently and the abundance of dry fuel worsens the situation. I have made the Declaration of Disaster to mitigate the threat to property and life in Bosque County."
Monday evening, McLennan County Judge Scott Felton announced there could be a ban on fireworks in his county as soon as Tuesday.
Felton said in a release, "Due to the ongoing drought and potential for grassfires, it is likely that I will issue a local disaster declaration prohibiting the sale and use of all fireworks as early as tomorrow unless the current status somehow changes. If issued, this Order must be approved by and extended by the Governor. It will not affect fireworks displays under the direction of a Texas licensed pyro-technician."
Bell County already issued a disaster declaration last Wednesday, which also prohibited the sale and use of fireworks. Bell County Judge David Blackburn said city-created events could likely continue as long as they applied for a permit and could show they have licensed pyrotechnicians and safety staff on site.
Multiple people in the fireworks industry addressed the Bell County Commissioners Court Monday asking for a way they could still sell fireworks before the 4th of July.
Jeff Coffee with American Fireworks told commissioners they were willing to stop selling skyrockets and other middle-type fireworks but there other alternatives to completely shutting down their business.
"Allow us to sell for four days," Coffee said. "We sell different types of products. We will sell smoke bombs. We will sell more sparklers. We'll more fountains and less misses and less aerial products. People are responsible."
"If we don't sell at all, that is one whole year that we have no way to make up income. We are not a 365 day a year business that has a way to make up," Chester Davis said.
Blackburn said Bell County had seen 133 fires in the month of June and firefighters were already concerned with any new factors that could make the situation worse.
"More than one firefighter this week has conveyed to me, and I wrote down one of the comments he made, was that all fireworks represent an undue source of ignition," he said. "Not some. All fireworks... in an already flammable environment."
Blackburn said he knew firework companies had an economic interest in making money but the county had to put public safety first.
Blackburn said the disaster declaration could be modified if the county does get rain later in the week.