Comal County Fire Marshal Kory Klabunde said it’s rare to see such conditions precede July 4 holiday fireworks sales, but he’s not complaining.
“It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a very wet June,” he said Thursday, three days into the 10-day window for fireworks vendors to begin sales of bottle rockets, firecrackers, sparklers and pyrotechnic displays available through midnight on Independence Day.
Klabunde said this year offers a marked contrast to this time last year, when there was a ban on outdoor burning in unincorporated county areas. The Keetch-Byram Drought Index measures soil depletion and assigns point values for forest fire potential in Texas counties. At this time last year it measured 614 – far beyond the 500-point threshold to trigger countywide burn bans.
Not so this year, as Thursday’s KBDI measured just over 200. New Braunfels Regional Airport’s National Weather Service office had recorded 2.46 inches of rain through June 28. While that’s 2.05 inches below the average rainfall for June, the month saw 17 days of measurable precipitation.
“We’ve had a lot of rain but there are always several dry areas,” Klabunde said. “The KBDI usually goes up about 12 points a day when there’s no rain. It’s at 220 now throughout the county – with 76 being the low point in the county on Thursday.”
Whatever the conditions, Klabunde urges caution against setting off fireworks in baked fields and pastures that can easily catch fire by uncontrolled high-flying bottle rockets and missiles. Klabunde said most area fireworks stands hadn’t yet opened Thursday, but he expected to see mostly all available to customers this weekend.
“Most won’t open until next week as people tend to wait until right before the holiday before going to the stands,” he said. “We’re inspecting all of the stands we know about – I think there were 26 or so at last count.
“Most of them are usually in compliance – we’re asking the customers who use fireworks to just be mindful of others and their surroundings, and keep a water source nearby.”
Sales, possession and discharge of fireworks is allowed in unincorporated areas of Comal and Guadalupe counties unless specific bans are in place. Within New Braunfels city limits and its surrounding extraterritorial jurisdiction, possession and use of any kind of fireworks is illegal.
“Because the sale, use, and possession of fireworks is against the law inside the city limits of New Braunfels, we always encourage people to follow the law,” said David Ferguson, New Braunfels Police Department communications coordinator. “Of course, there are always those that don’t follow the law and our 9-1-1 Dispatch Center is often inundated with calls about people setting off illegal fireworks.”
“Of course, anytime someone is injured due to fireworks or if there is a fire due to fireworks, we want people to call 9-1-1 immediately. But, in order to keep those emergency lines open for true emergencies, we are asking residents to refrain from using 9-1-1 to simply report a fireworks violation or noise complaint.”
The city is hosting its annual Fourth of July Fireworks display in Landa Park, co-sponsored by H-E-B and KGNB-AM 1420. Residents and visitors are encouraged to come early, expect large crowds and be mindful of park rules.
Seating will be available at the Landa Park Golf Course beginning at 6 p.m. before a free concert featuring the U.S. Air Force Band of the West at the Landa Park Dance Slab at 6:30 p.m. KGNB-AM will air a live broadcast of the music up to and including the fireworks display that begins at 9:15 p.m.
“We invite everyone to enjoy the annual fireworks spectacular which will launch from Landa Lake and be seen from the golf course, Landa Park and Fredericksburg Fields – all will be great viewing sites,” said Stacey Dicke, the city’s parks and recreation director.
Ferguson said NBPD also urges residents to enjoy the professional fireworks show at Landa Park on Thursday night. Elsewhere, he reminds police and fire crews will be patrolling the city looking for fireworks scofflaws.
“Our officers are also responding to high priority calls for service as well, like traffic accidents, domestic disturbances, DWI enforcement, etc. It’s nearly impossible to respond to every one of the dozens of fireworks calls we get,” he said. “So we appreciate the patience of residents as we prioritize those calls for service to do the best job we can to keep the entire city safe with the resources that are available to us.”
Those reporting fireworks use and noise violations should call NBPD’s non-emergency number, 830-221-4100. For more on Thursday’s concert and fireworks show, call the parks and recreation department at 830-221-4350.
FIREWORK SAFETY PRECAUTIONS:
• Keep an eye on small children
• Be courteous to neighbors, especially those with pets easily scared by loud noises
• Use caution around dead grass; keep a bucket of water, wet towels or garden hose nearby
• Make sure all embers and packaging are fully extinguished before throwing them away
• Purchase fireworks only from licensed retail outlets
• Follow directions carefully – with close adult supervision
• Never experiment with homemade or altered fireworks
• Only light one firework at a time – then move back quickly
• Never shoot fireworks from metal or glass containers
• Never carry fireworks in your pocket
• Never point or throw fireworks at people or animals
Sources: Comal County Fire Marshal, Mr. W Fireworks