Bell County will not be as festive this Independence Day after officials banned the use and sale of fireworks.
County Judge David Blackburn held a press conference Wednesday where he issued a disaster declaration related to the ongoing droughts in the county. The declaration, which went into effect immediately, will last for 60 hours and is expected to be extended by the governor through the holiday weekend.
The ban on fireworks comes as the county sees widespread drought, with a burn ban in place to prevent controlled burns.
Under the declaration, events will need to apply for permits with the county in order to shoot off fireworks.
Blackburn said that the events will need to prove to the county that they are able to provide a safe environment for the event before a permit is granted. He said he anticipates that shows run by local governments would meet those standards.
Enforcement of the declaration will mainly be done through residents reporting their use.
While he and his family enjoy fireworks on the Fourth of July, Blackburn said they were not worth the risk.
“Fireworks unnecessarily put persons and property at risk,” Blackburn said.
The declaration will affect most of the county but not federal land such as Fort Hood, where a fireworks show is scheduled for Friday night.
"Although Fort Hood is a federal entity and not within the jurisdiction of the judge's order, the intent of the declaration is for all to use extreme caution if hosting a fireworks event which Fort Hood will do," Fort Hood officials said in a news release late Wednesday.
Fort Hood said its fire department will work with others to provide safety.
"The Killeen and Copperas Cove Fire Departments will provide fire crew coverage along I-14/HWY 190. The Fort Hood DES Fire Department will have additional fire crews stationed in and around the fireworks display area before and during the event. Additionally, the Fireworks display launch area will be watered down as an added safety measure prior to the event," according to the release. "Prior to conducting the fireworks show at the Freedom Fest, Fort Hood officials will consider all contributing factors including outside temperatures, wind direction and humidity levels to determine it is safe to proceed."