Bell County Judge David Blackburn has adjusted the county's firework ban.
The recent update now allows sellers to start dishing out certain fireworks starting tomorrow. Blackburn issued the initial Disaster Declaration on June 22, stating the sale of all fireworks including in unincorporated areas was banned.
After some rainfall this week, Blackburn has rolled back a few restrictions. Firework shops are now allowed to sell some fireworks from July 1st through the 4th. It's something some shop owners are grateful for.
"It was a little scary given the fanatical impact it would have on a business our size," said one firework shop owner who did not want to be identified. "I don't entirely agree with the decision but it's something I understood because of the drought conditions but it will have some pretty serious financial impacts for firework business in our county. It's certainly better than not having any sales at all. The bulk of your business usually happens in the last few days of the fireworks season anyway so we're just hoping for a fruitful season."
The rain was the main reason for the rollback in firework restrictions. Judge Blackburn said, "The use of the fireworks during that time frame, with the exception of stick rockets, missiles, with fans and rudders. So basically, aerial fireworks are not permitted under the declaration or under the amendment. But again, it's allowed for a limited time."
Drought conditions and the growing number of brush and wildfires reported across the county also played a role in Blackburn's decision. While it's normal to see fireworks banned in city limits, there is a new component to the ban.
Blackburn said, "I'm cognizant of those businesses' interest in those economic interests that are in play, I also have to be very cognizant of the public safety interest. What is new or not new, but not done very often is banning fireworks in the unincorporated areas of the county."
Jail time and fines are potentially on the line for those who are caught violating the order. The Killeen Fire Department, as always, will be on high alert.
Killeen Fire Chief James Kubinski said, "We have to pick up our enforcement efforts and be a little bit more emphatic on the enforcement this year versus previous years and staff some extra booster trucks."
Kubinski explained the city has what they call booster trucks that can get into rural areas quicker than a fire truck. These vehicles are critical in case someone's actions do cause a fire.
"That's an asset and a resource. I've never seen any in the fire department that I've been a part of, to have six booster trucks to be able to address it. So, we are ready, we are prepared, and we are vigilant, and we have a much higher level of vigilance than we've had in previous years because it is a little bit drier," said Kubinski.
The City of Killeen is hosting a 4th of July event, that will showcase a professional firework show.
Chief Kubinski suggests you look into events in your city to celebrate America's birthday safely.