By: Sarah Snyder
MIDLAND/ODESSA: This day last year was much different from this Independence Day. A burn ban stamped out hopes of fireworks, but this year, the rain has improved our dry landscape leaving firefighters saying if there's no rain or lightning proceed with caution.
Every pop and crackel means Fourth of July celebrations are in full force this year. The Summer rains dropped our area burn bans and as night falls, the sparks are lighting up the sky.
But even with a new chance for festivities, there's a risk looming and Midland Fire officials want to make sure West Texans stay safe. So here's what you need to know:
"If you can light it, it's illegal," David Hickman, Midland Asst. Fire Marshal said.
If the fireworks have a pull string, it's just fine. But if you have to light it, that's illegal inside the City of Midland. If you live out in the County this year, you've got the greenlight for all those sparklers and firecrackers.
"We just urge people to use caution," Hickman said. "These are an explosive and they produce heat and every year we have injuries from these."
But the green light comes with a few restrictions: don't light up near a roadway and stay 600 feet away from churches. Don't use alcohol near the displays.
"I think people underestimate just how powerful some of these devices can be," Hickman said. "They misuse them. They use them in inappropriate methods and that's where we see the seriousness of injuries."
And often the most dangerous are the most common.
"Sparklers for instance are magnesium fires," Hickman said. "Those burn at 2,000 degrees and people hand these to small children, so they're handing them a device that's burning at 2,000 degrees."
Fire officials say last year's ban actually improved the number of fireworks accidents they responded to.
"In 2008, we had 3 fires because of the ban in the County, in 2007 without the ban, we had over 300," Hickman said.