With the Fourth of July holiday quickly approaching, Killeen residents are beginning to stock up on fireworks from local vendors.
“We were very happy with the amount of people who came in to buy from us within the first few days,” said Andréa Womack, a pastor for New Beginnings Church in Harker Heights.
Womack and other church volunteers began selling fireworks Monday at Fireworks Warehouse, located on U.S. Highway 190 near the Paddy Hamilton Road exit. Like many local organizations, New Beginnings is selling fireworks as a fundraising effort, and based on what she has seen so far, Womack is optimistic.
“We had a customer come in two days in a row,” Womack said. “He said he might even come in a third time.”
Current city ordinance bans fireworks within the city of Killeen, and within up to 5,000 feet of city limits. Those caught breaking this law can have their fireworks confiscated by police or firefighters and be issued a fine, according to Killeen Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Hawthorne.
“If (residents) want to celebrate with fireworks, they need to do so outside the city limits,” Hawthorne said.
Vendors like Womack and her church may actually see more customers eager to purchase fireworks this year, thanks to drought conditions that are less severe than in previous years.
In summer 2011, Bell County issued a ban on certain kinds of fireworks due to dryness and severe drought conditions. County officials again approved a ban on “bottle rocket”-like fireworks in December 2012 and January 2013.
This year there will be no such ban, said Bell County Judge Jon Burrows.
“The county’s (drought index) does not meet the conditions to trigger a ban under the law,” Burrows said. “Up until this stage, it has been a much cooler and much wetter period than we had last year. We had some periodic showers and that has helped us.”
While conditions may not meet the necessary requirement to trigger a fireworks ban, Hawthorne still advised individuals who plan to shoot off fireworks in unincorporated areas of the county to be cautious.
“We are still looking at hot, dry weather, so you need to be very careful,” Hawthorne said. “You may see green grass on top, but there could be dead, dry grass underneath that can catch fire. It can be very deceiving.”
Hawthorne advised those using fireworks outside the city limits to keep an adequate supply of water nearby.