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Katy Authorities Discuss Concerns Over Drought and Fireworks

KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

June 30, 2022

By Natalie Cook Clark


Katy has seen some rain this week, but authorities say that it is not enough to ease their concern over the dryness in the area ahead of many families celebrating the Fourth of July. Fireworks are strictly banned in the City of Katy, but they can be launched outside the city in Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller Counties despite a burn ban.


A brush fire at N. Mason Road near Morton Road. Photo credit: Jason Tharp.


Fireworks are Banned in the City of Katy

Fireworks have always been banned in the City of Katy proper, but are fair game outside the city limits in Harris, Fort Bend, and Waller Counties. Local officials stress safety and caution over the current dry conditions in the area.




Not Enough Rain to Change Dry Conditions

“Even with the recent rain, it will take time for the vegetation in the area to overcome the lack of water they have been subjected to in the last month,” says Willowfork Fire Department Fire Chief Billy Wilson.


Watson stresses that the current drought conditions have greatly enhanced the possibility of grass and brush fires.


“These fires will spread quickly and are even more intensified with the wind conditions,” says Chief Wilson.


Jason Tharp, the Battalion Chief of Community Risk Reduction and PIO for Harris County ESD No. 48 Fire Department says that they have already responded to numerous grass fires. In fact, according to Tharp, the department has so far responded to a total of 30 brush fires in 2022 with eight being in June. Last year the department only responded to 14 grass or brush fires.


“Just this past week in my neighborhood (King’s Crossing) a fire was started when a lawn crew struck something in the grass that created a spark,” says Tharp. “Due to the extremely dry grass and the spark, a fire started near one of the ponds.”


Grass fire in Kings Crossing neighborhood. Photo credit: Kirsten Fay


Best Fire Prevention is to Abstain from Fireworks

Such a case demonstrates the severity of the current situation.


“In our current drought situation, the best prevention is to abstain from use of fireworks,” says Chief Wilson. “If you are going to shoot them, be very aware of your surroundings and make sure to inspect the area prior to, and after shooting them for any hazards or fire spots.”


Chief Wilson says that each year his department responds to at least one costly fire caused by fireworks. He stresses the importance of safely discarding used fireworks in a metal container full of water and to store them away from structures, vehicles, or other flammable material.



“While I support our freedom to celebrate the 4th of July, I think residents should be discouraged from discharging fireworks this year,” says Fort Bend County Constable Chad Norvell. “In lieu of shooting them off, go attend a professional show in Katy or Fulshear.”


Constable Norvell says that professional fireworks go higher. This allows the embers to burn off before hitting the ground.


Firework Safety Tips

Open Area and Distance - Set off fireworks in an open area, not up against a house. Fireworks cannot be set off within 600 feet of a school (even if it's not in session,) church, hospital or gas station.

Read the Instructions - Ask questions when purchasing your fireworks.


Impaired Judgment - Be responsible and let those adults not drinking light the fireworks.

Water source - ALWAYS have a water source nearby and douse everything before throwing it

out.


Not for Children - Fireworks should only be handled by adults.


Don't Forget Your Pets

Many pets go missing during the Fourth of July because the noise and lights can be terrifying, so they run and hide.


Pet experts recommend bringing outside pets indoors and even putting them in an interior room to help minimize the sound and prevent them going through a window. Tips to keep pets safe:

  • Keep pets inside

  • Keeps pets in interior rooms away from windows

  • Verify they have proper identification (tags and microchips)

Fireworks Etiquette

While some neighborhoods request the ceasing of fireworks after midnight, residents should know not to shoot off fireworks during odd hours that could upset families.


If you do plan to shoot off fireworks let your neighbors know your intentions so they can prepare children and pets for the noise. Remember it's important to be safe, courteous, and considerate to your Katy neighbors.


“Each year firefighters respond to firework related fires under normal conditions,” says Tharp. “We must be proactive during drought conditions or the consequences could be devastating.”


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