Ector County Commissioners extended the county burn ban, and plan to ban the use of certain fireworks during the July 4 season.
The agenda item for the June 11 commissioners’ court meeting states that commissioners will pass a ban on the use of rockets with sticks and missiles with fins in county limits, such as bottle rockets.
“They can go 600 feet even with no wind, so here they can go a pretty long distance where you wouldn’t even see it land,” Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Childers said.
The burn ban was extended during the last commissioners’ court meeting in response to low amounts of rain in the county.
“It’s dangerous out there,” Childers said. “It’s very, very dry.”
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, an index used to determine forest fire potential based on a daily water balance, is at an average of 506 for Ector County, which means wildfire intensity begins to increase significantly and larger fuels, such as large brushes of dry grass, could burn or smolder for several days.
If the KBDI reached an average more than 575, the county would be able to completely ban the sale of fireworks, but Childers doesn’t think that will happen.
“To totally ban the sale of fireworks is pretty obtrusive,” he said, “and a lot of nonprofits make their money selling fireworks and they have stands that they run for different vendors.”
Childers said another good thing right now is there isn’t as much fuel in the county right now due to so little rain.
“That being said, there’s certain places where there is fuel. And West Odessa is one of them,” he said.
Jim Harris, owner of Truckload Fireworks, said the ban won’t affect sales much. The type of fireworks banned only make up around 10 percent of the more than 100 items he sells, Harris said.
“I don’t want any of my stuff to start a fire,” Harris said,” and with as little rain as we’ve had this year, I sure wouldn’t sell to the public rockets or missiles.”
One of Harris’ top sellers, he said, are reloadables, fireworks shot out of a chute into the sky. They don’t leave behind a residue that could potentially start a fire, unlike the fireworks banned, which can leave behind smoldering paper that falls back to the ground. Harris said he will have more than 50 aerial fireworks for sale that are not banned by the county.
Childers added that should there be much more rain in the coming weeks, the burn ban could be lifted.
“For the people who love rockets and missiles, well, pray for rain, brother,” Harris said.
Vendors are only permitted to sell fireworks in Ector County outside of city limits, the possession of fireworks in city limits is prohibited, Childers said. Consumers are only allowed to use fireworks in the county.
The burn ban also prohibits anyone in the county from starting outside fires. There are a few exceptions: residents can still burn their trash as long as it’s in a barrel with a grate on top of it.
Odessa has a permanent ban against outside burning within city limits.
- Sales begin June 24.
- Sales end July 4.