The oohs and aahs of the Independence Day holiday will be more subdued this year in Texas, where months of severe drought have led to restrictions on fireworks across much of the state.
Not only are dozens of counties imposing restrictions on small-bore pyrotechnics like firecrackers and bottle rockets, but cities like San Antonio, Austin, Amarillo and Lubbock have canceled municipal Fourth of July displays because of the tinderbox conditions.
"Temperatures are in the triple digits, and we're not seeing any relief," Chris Angerer, the deputy chief of operations for the Lubbock fire department, said Thursday. Wildfires have already reached into the city limits and destroyed three homes, and months without significant rain have left grasslands brown and dry, looking "like the dead of winter."
Canceling the fireworks shows is "causing a little bit of a stir," said fire engineer Deborah Foster, a San Antonio fire spokeswoman. "But it's for the protection of the people of San Antonio. One errant spark and we could have a major grass fire."
Wildfires have scorched nearly 3.3 million acres of Texas since November, setting ablaze an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Authorities have banned outdoor fires in 235 of the state's 254 counties, a figure the Texas Forest Service called record-setting.FULL STORY