by Victor Lopez
HOWARD COUNTY--Unlike most West Texas counties, the firework stands are open, in Howard County and law enforcement and fire officials are already on stand-by.
Even though they're legal, Howard County Judge Mark Barr says, they're keeping an eye out for any possible violations, "Anywhere they normally gather, people are going to be watching. The deputies and the fire chief are going to be watching."
One of those locations includes the rodeo arena just south of the city of Big Spring. In recent years, it has become a popular hang out for people on July 4th. This year, it's going to be one the hot spots watched for fireworks violations.
At least four of the eight counties that surround Howard County, have some sort of fireworks ban in place. That has Judge Barr concerned, concerned that people from those counties will come into his to shoot off fireworks, "We're getting prepared for that. Our sheriff's department is putting people on. It's going to cost the county some overtime, which is an expense, needless to say what a fire would cause the county."
That's why law enforcement and fire officials will be working together. To make sure that everyone has a happy and safe 4th of July.
Fire Chief Tommy Sullivan says he and his crew already have a plan in place on how to keep Howard County as fire free as possible, "All the hot spots closest to town, our district stations, they'll be out in their areas patrolling, watching for the fireworks off the roadways to help curb down any of these fires."
July 1st was first day fireworks went on sale in Howard County and some people couldn't wait to get their hands on them. Kevin Roberts, with T.N.T. Fireworks explains, "Last night, when we were starting to put stuff in here, before we could sell, we had 10 or 15 people that wanted to buy, but we couldn't sell it yet."
Once you have your bottle rockets and roman candles in hand, be careful where and how you use them.
"You cannot shoot them from a public right of way and you cannot shoot them from public property unless you have permission," Judge Barr advised.
Fire officials will be patrolling the popular hang outs and warning people to leave. Chief Sullivan explains what can happen, if you decide to ignore the warnings, "My crew is going to have digital cameras. They're going to take license numbers of people that are doing it. If they leave before the sheriff's office gets there, then we have the evidence to show that they were breaking the law."
Chief Sullivan also says, if you accidentally start a fire or see one on your or someone else's property, just call 9-1-1 and they will send crews to the scene to put out the fire.