Due to the severe and ongoing drought the use of fireworks poses a serious risk for fires. At a Board of Commissioner's meeting Thursday, a number of people voiced their concerns and opinions about the use of fireworks including residents, firefighters and business owners.
The Wichita County Board of Commissioners resolved a list of fireworks restrictions based on the Keetch Byram Drought Index, which is used to indicate ground moisture. The restrictions range from prohibiting the use of certain types of fireworks to banning them altogether.
"There's not a lot of guidance on what to do in situations like this. So the County Commissioners had to take it upon themselves to come up with a policy that will satisfy most people," said Russell Nettles, owner of Russell's Fireworks Kingdom.
He said the board struck a good balance between commerce, personal liberties, and public safety. Charlotte Spragins lives on a country road and said because fireworks are banned in the city, people come out to the country where she lives, and puts her property in jeopardy.
"The fireworks are jeopardizing the country person's home and business, to a large degree. If you burn off a ranch or a barn full of grass or grain, you've destroyed a part, a large part of somebody's income," said Spragins.
Spragins said, if you want to shoot fireworks find a legal place to do so, as it doesn't take much dry grass to start a fire. "don't go down on the county roads and shoot the fireworks off that's illegal, and it's unethical, and a lot of litter occurs because of that," said Nettles.
Currently, the K.B.D.I. for Wichita County is below five hundred. At that level, no restrictions are triggered. Nettles said, there is a simple solution to the fire issue.
"Have somebody down wind with something as simple as a five-gallon bucket and a wet towel. Have a spotter down-wind, it's just as simple as that. That will solve 99.9 percent of the problems," said Nettles.
County officials said, there are some things fireworks users need to know. The use of fireworks are banned within city limits and on county roads including, any space from fence to fence. So, the grass between the fence and the street is off limits. The use of fireworks in the county is limited to use on personal property only and you must have permission from the owner.
Personal responsibility is critical when using fireworks, people should only use them the way they are intended to be used. When finished, make sure to clean up the remaining debris and trash.
County officials said to call and report offenders, so the rules can be enforced.