Wichita County Commissioners met Monday morning to discuss a Disaster Declaration, and proposed fireworks guidelines.
Judge Woody Gossom proposed the guidelines, which he plans to sign at noon on Wednesday, to be in effect through midnight on June 5th. The restrictions are as follows:
1. The use of fireworks in an outdoor environment by any person is restricted, but Wichita County is not banning the sale of fireworks this 44th of July season.
2. Fireworks include, but are not limited to, any commercial fireworks product sold for personal use, other flammable materials used in activities associated with recreational pyrotechnics, or any other activity that could result in a wildfire.
3. The use of fireworks is allowed under the following guidelines ONLY:
a. The person(s) using the fireworks must have written permission of the landowner, if not the landowner. Unauthorized passage onto private land is currently against the law.
. A separate person over the age of 18 years must be present to act as a spotter to observe for possible fires.
c. A minimum of 5 gallons of water must be available on site.
d. A minimum of one (1) water pressure fire extinguisher or one (1) gallon pump/sprayer must be on site with other fire suppression tools, such as shovels, or wet burlap bags.
e. Fireworks may not be discharged in brushy areas, but may only be used on cleared or plowed land.
f. Aerial fireworks must not leave area you are using to discharge fireworks.
g. No fireworks may be used if winds are 20 mph or greater.
h. Fireworks may not be used within the right-of-way of a public road or highway or any other public lands at any time unless specifically allowed by legal authority.
i. Persons using fireworks must have trash bags or other container to remove fireworks refuse from the site and properly dispose.
j. Any business owner or individual allowing individuals to ignite fireworks on their premise with or without a charge, must register this activity with the Wichita County Sheriff, 940-766-8170, and their servicing volunteer fire department at least twelve hours before the activity begins. The person making notification must give name, phone number, and address of responsible person, as well as the event location and the hours of the activity.
NOTE: Violation of this Order is a Class C Misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
Last year we told you about an event at Texoma Motor Speedway, where you could go safely pop fireworks. While it was a big success for residents, it was also a traffic and logistical nightmare for Sheriff's Deputies.
This year, owner Gary Clark said they're only offering 200 passes per day, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. If you're interested in a safe place to pop fireworks, you can get your "Pop Pass" at Russell's Fireworks Kingdom, then pay the $20 entry fee at the gate. The facility will be open from 8:00 pm until midnight, each night.
Owner of Russell's Fireworks Kingdom, Russell Nettles, says he wants to make crystal clear, people can celebrate the 4th by setting off fireworks, they just need to do so responsibly and in the right places.
He said, "My goal is for everybody to use their fireworks safely, that's in my best interest. I love shooting fireworks, I know my customers love shooting fireworks. Its a tradition, its a liberty, you know we're celebrating the 4th of July."