Fourth of July means cookouts, dazzling sky designs and loud bangs for some, but for volunteers of two local fireworks stands, it means the well-being of their spirituality.
Nolanville and Belton warehouses opened Monday, stocking shelves with colorful boxes of sparklers, rocket-launching do-dads and other celebratory explosives. Volunteers at both stands said 10 percent of their profits will go toward community outreach and church improvement initiatives.
While ordinance prohibits the use, sale and transport of fireworks in Harker Heights, the Nolanville stand attracts residents from other areas of the county where fireworks are legal, said Andrea Womack, manager of the fireworks stand and care pastor of New Beginnings Church in Harker Heights. The absence of a burn ban has allowed her to stock more items than previous years.
But local authorities cautioned residents to be aware of fire dangers during the holiday.
“Don’t think that just because things are green right now that they’re going to remain so,” said Heights Fire Chief Jack Collier.
Sponsored by Texas A&M, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index scores the likelihood of wildfire on a 0-800 scale. Heights is in the 300-400 range now, meaning a low-moderate chance for wildfire.
“Usually the 550 range is where we start triggering the burn ban,” Collier said. “(By the Fourth), we’ll be awfully close. ... It gets dry here real quick and stays that way.”
Shooting fireworks has caused multiple-acre fires in the past, Collier said. He encouraged people to watch the Fort Hood fireworks display put on by professionals.
“If people are going to set off fireworks, be very, very careful,” Collier said. “I can’t tell you how many fingers I’ve seen blown off.”
Womack said many people shoot fireworks to bond with family.
“I see so many guys coming in that say, ‘I get excited when my kids get excited.’ There’s something nostalgic about when you did it as a kid.”
She’s hoping for rain so a burn ban doesn’t force her to throw away products.
Womack’s inventory includes two 18-wheeler truckloads of 600 types of fireworks, she said. The location was busy on its first day, which Womack projected would bring in a “few thousand” dollars.
“I thought I would be doing more maintenance and labeling,” Womack said. “We had quite a few customers.”
Womack hopes to pull in $200-300,000 in sales through midnight July 4 when the warehouse closes.
Ben Harper, children’s pastor of Belton’s Crossroads Church, said his stand stocks $113,000 worth of fireworks.
At 7220 Nolan Bluff Drive in Belton, Harper’s stand earned about $200 by 5 p.m. Monday, he said.
“If we sell fast, we’ll have to restock,” he said. “With a burn ban, we can still sell them, unless a judge says we can’t. It’s up to the customer to act wisely and decide if they’re going to light them up.”
Harker Heights police spokesman Sgt. Roosevelt Wilson said extra officers will patrol the city July 4.
“I would discourage (fireworks) within the city limits,” Wilson said. “Violators face the possibility of being ticketed up to $500. They will be held liable for any damage caused by their fireworks, as well as the fine.”
The appeal of shooting fireworks is easy to understand, Harper said. “I just think people like to see things explode,” he said. “There’s no great insight on that one for me. They just like to blow things up.”
Contact Brian Bradley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7567