Firefighters Keeping an Eye Out for Illegal Fireworks

Nick Lawton
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND COUNTY - For nearly every Fourth of July, firefighters don't get a day off.

"We've always had a few grass fires on the 4th of July, but this year it's extremely bad," Mat McClure, Fire Chief for the Northeast Midland County Volunteer Fire Department, said. "We've never been this dry."

When the sun goes down on Independence Day, that's when firefighters in Midland County spread throughout the area, this time facing the possibility of firework ban violators starting fires.

But if they do spot an illegal firework, it won't be just them traveling to the scene.

"If people don't abide by the fireworks ban, the fire department will be called out there and more than likely a deputy sheriff or city police officer will go out there with us," McClure said.

"They're really serious about it and should be, because of the dangers that we are facing," Leland Hart, Fire Chief with the Greenwood Volunteer Fire Department, said.

Those are dangers of dry grass and the sparks from those fireworks.

"Even just a little firecracker, little poppers, anything that causes a spark, just any little spark, will set off a grass fire," McClure said.

"The vegetation out there is extremely dry," Hart said. "Even the green stuff is dry. It doesn't take but just a tiny spark to get a large fire going."

That high risk has firefighters concerned if fireworks cause fires in multiple areas. They're worried they won't have the equipment or the manpower to get to them all.

"The more risks that you have, the possibility of multiple situations, multiple fires, which could quickly, not only our resources could, but could stretch all the fire resources in Midland County," Hart said. "Then you start running into real dangers."

Firefighters said it all starts with neighbors looking out for neighbors. They hope potential violators will think twice before shooting off a festive firework that has become a major fire risk.

"Think about it. That could be your house that you're burning down," McClure said. "It could be your parents' house or your children's house you're burning down."

Firefighters also told NewsWest 9 they're confident that if West Texans see their neighbors illegally shooting off their own fireworks, they will inform authorities.

They said it's important to have a second thought when thinking of shooting off that firework or not, when it's not only your home but others' homes that could be in danger.