Firefighters, Fireworks Vendors Prepare for New Year Celebrations

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - We're just hours away from the new year and many West Texans plan on bringing it in with a bang. Fire crews are gearing up to fight fires from fireworks.

Stands are open and sales are booming as the Basin says goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013.

"They're excited," Lexie Latimer, with Truckload Fireworks, said. "They were really excited over the summer and they're excited that they could do it for New Year's. A lot of times we don't get to do it for New Year's out here."

This year there are no burn bans in effect in Midland or Ector County and customers are stocking up.

"We've got some people that come out and spend $400 to $500 and others that spend $20 or $30," Latimer said. "It's a big range."

Fire crews are ready for what could be a busy night.

"There's always concern," Midland County Fire Marshal, Dale Little, said. "Anytime you mix fireworks and alcohol, there's a problem."

But even without burn bans and restrictions, Little said the fire risk is still very high.

"Late in the year, we had some pretty good size rains and it grew up the vegetation again and froze out," Little said. "Anytime you have freeze dried vegetation, it makes it hard and crisp and easier to burn."

He said residents should not use the recent rain as a safety net.

"Even though we had a little rain last (Sunday) night, it's still dry," Little said. "If the wind gets up this afternoon like it's being predicted, all that rain will just dry totally out."

Fireworks vendors are keeping that in mind.

"We still at the moment don't have rockets, missiles, anything with a fin," Latimer said. "With the rain last (Sunday) night that may change but I don't think so."

If you're planning on starting the new year with a bang, make sure you're following the law.

"You have to be on your own property or with written permission of the property owner to shoot them," Little said.

Popping fireworks on county roads, bar ditches and state highways are also off limits.

"We catch a lot of people doing that," Little said.

Law enforcement will be stepping up patrols and violators will be fined.

Just a reminder, fireworks are outlawed in the city and within 5,000 feet of the city.

Fireworks sales end Tuesday night at midnight.