Aerial fireworks in county shot down for holidays
From Staff Reports

Nov. 30, 2006 - Hopkins County residents will have to find ways to ring in the New Year that don’t include the traditional aerial fireworks, as the use of such pyrotechnics are currently prohibited in all unincorporated areas of the county.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court, in a meeting earlier this week, voted to curtail the use of certain fireworks, citing continued drought conditions as a major determining factor in the decision to prohibit certain types of skyrockets and missiles.

While counties and municipalities can set guidelines over certain fireworks, law prevents them from banning the use of common small fireworks. "Class C” explosives or firecrackers are permitted, as are “large fireworks devices designed primarily to produce visible or audible effects by combustion, deflagration, or detonation and classified as Class B explosives.”

The court order, signed by all four county commissioners and the county judge, specifies that “No person may sell, detonate, ignite or in any way use fireworks classified under 49 CFR part 173.100(4)(2)(10-1-86 edition), as ‘skyrockets with sticks’ and ‘missiles with fins’ in any portion of the unincorporated area of Hopkins County.”

Hopkins County Judge Cletis Millsap said the court passed the measure on Monday to be in compliance with state regulations which specify the order must be passed by Dec. 15 for the New Year's holiday. The commissioners established the order early so that those planning celebrations or to sell fireworks would be notified in advance.

�We are still in drought conditions,� Millsap said. "Even though we�ve had some rain, we still haven�t fully recovered and had enough to make up for the earlier drought conditions. We can�t afford to have someone set off a bunch of fireworks and chance having them get on someone�s property and destroy it and their land

He also noted that while fireworks are being restricted the commissioner’s court at this time decided conditions are not so dry that a burn ban is needed. However, they are cautioning anyone who does any outdoor burning or works with materials which may spark to use extreme caution, making sure a ready water source is available and other precautions taken to lessen the likelihood a burn spread out of control.

County officials are also asking that anyone who does use the allowable fireworks, such as firecrackers, to also take precautionary measures to lessen the threat of unintended fires as well as personal injury.

All fireworks continue to prohibited within the city limits of Sulphur Springs and on state waterways.

The fireworks restriction order also notes that anyone caught violating the order can be charged with a Class C misdemeanor offense, generally administered as a citation carrying a fine.

For specifics on fireworks restrictions and laws, go to http://www.tamu.edu/ticc/legislation.htm

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