No Rockets Red Glare

Fireworks, outdoor fires banned through Independence Day

If you think there is no Fourth of July without fireworks, then you better be vacationing outside of Texas. Travis County has asked us to remind everyone in the area that there are serious restrictions on traditional Independence Day celebrations due to the extreme ongoing drought conditions.

No fireworks, no burning: Travis County has been under an emergency declaration for threats of extreme wildfires since Dec. 21. There is also a local disaster declaration, issued by County Judge Same Biscoe on June 28, and this effectively means no outdoor flames until July 27. This means no fireworks. Fire marshals and Travis County law enforcement and safety officials will be patrolling, and violators will be charged with a class C misdemeanor with a $500 fine.

This also means that big organized fireworks events have been canceled, including the massive annual Austin Symphony July 4 Concert and Fireworks on Lake Travis. In a statement, Austin Symphony Orchestra executive director Anthony Corroa said, "This is the first time in 35 years that the ASO has had to cancel both the concert and fireworks portions of this concert."

Careful with your barbecue: All cooking fires must be completely enclosed, and all ashes must be doused with water until cool.

Do not discard lit cigarettes: Not only is it littering, but it is also a fire risk. Fire officials in Lubbock are cracking down really hard: Throwing a lit cigarette is being prosecuted as arson, a state felony punishable by up to two years in prison.

Keep mowing to a minimum: Yes, we all know how much you love your perfectly trimmed bermudagrass, but even just a spark from a mower blade hitting a rock can be enough to start a fire. Also be careful while towing any metal.

Oh, and a quick warning for any wannabe drunk drivers: Austin Police Department is part of a statewide no refusal weekend. Yesterday there were 19 arrests in Austin alone, with seven by breath test and 12 by drawn blood. The no-refusal rule continues through to 5am tomorrow morning, July 5.

And as if you needed it, here's a quick reminder from Smokey the Bear:

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Austin Police Department, No Refusal, Travis County, Fourth of July, Burn Ban, Judge Sam Biscoe, Smokey the Bear

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