The Wichita County Sheriff's office is on high alert for the next 72 hours. The sheriff's office wants residents to know deputies will do everything they can to make sure we all have a safe Fourth of July holiday. Deputies will be hard at work looking for drunk drivers, enforcing the burn ban, and enforcing the ban on using fireworks. They stress there is a zero tolerance policy on all three fronts, but there is a concern some people will try to slip past sheriff enforcement and head to area lakes to pop fireworks.
Clay County Sheriff Kenny Lemons says they will have extra patrol this weekend near the water. Residents who live on the lake are concerned about the fire danger because so many people go out there to shoot fireworks. The Bale family lives in a house right off Lake Arrowhead in Henrietta. They are afraid a spark may cause a fire disaster instead of an Independence Day celebration.
Lake Arrowhead Resident Barbara Bale says, "I'm just afraid it is so dry that fireworks travel in the wind. And if they land in our yard. And if a fire starts, it's going to be bad." Barbara says Lake Arrowhead is a hot spot for people who like to come out, and see and shoot fireworks. The Bale's hope this year, people will follow the law because of the extreme fire danger. Barbara Bale says, "We hope that people will listen and do what they're told to do, and not light them. But you know you never know." And Dick Bale says, "We've got too many older people right across here. They're in their 90s. They can't get out if something happens."
Lemons says all his deputies will be working this weekend. He says, "We're putting extra patrols on. We're putting all our deputies. We've canceled all days off, vacations, working 10 hour shifts. And we've beefed up our jail staff. We're not cutting any slack this weekend. We're not going to tolerate any unsafe behavior whatsoever." And Fire Chief Mike Hall says they are equipped and on standby. Hall says, "Course our first responders will be on hand. We'll have an ambulance staged with paramedics and stuff on it. And also air evacs. And we'll have fire crews ready to go if need be."
Hall says there have been more than 30 fires resulting from fireworks in the area. He hopes this year's celebration does not add to the list. Sheriff Lemons says he expects Texomans will follow the law. However, as we told you last night, he is ready to throw violators in jail.