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Fireworks Restrictions Await Finalization

Shooting fireworks are okay, but with certain restrictions. Violators can be fined up to $500.
This year's guidelines are still awaiting approval by the Wichita County commissioners for shooting fireworks this year. They began their meeting at 11 Tuesday morning to implement the rules and Judge Woody Gossom began working on a final order to send to the governor for his approval and signature.  The final order is expected to be completed sometime tomorrow. 

The guidelines that were outlined on Tuesday morning allow county residents to use fireworks on private property with permission of the landowner as long as certain precautions are taken.  These guidelines are not final until Gossom finished the final version and sends it to the governor.
  • Fireworks are allowed only if you get the landowners permission.
  • You must have a  person over the age of 18 to act as a spotter -- which is someone who will look for fires or smoke.
  • A minimum of 5 gallons of water has to be available on site.
  • A minimum of one water pressure fire extinguisher or one gallon pump sprayer -- along with fire suppression tools like a shovel or wet bag -- must be on site.
  • No fireworks can be used if winds are 20 miles per hour or greater.
  • You must have a trash bag so you can remove firework debris.
  • You can't shoot fireworks near a brushy area or where the grass is higher than three inches. 
  • You must be 25 feet inside your property line and aerial fireworks must not leave the area that you are in. 
Violation of any of these restrictions could result in a fine up to $500.

Judge Woody Gossom says, ultimately, the new guidelines are about common sense and to promote safety. 

Now some Wichita County residents feel that fireworks should not be used at all, and other's think they are fine as long as these safety guidelines are followed.

"Maybe not at all because so many accidents still happen and there's always fires and people get hurt," Wichita Falls resident Patricia St. Mary says.  

Others are okay with fireworks as long as there are clear guidelines set in place.

"As long there are safety guidelines I think it should be okay," Wichita Falls resident Jessalyn Collins says.  

Russell Nettles of Russell's Fireworks Kingdom says he is a big proponent of safety while shooting off fireworks.

He gave the county about 200 signs to install warning residents setting off fireworks on public roadways and ditches is illegal.

He attended the meeting with his attorney, David Cabrales, former general counsel to Governor Rick Perry.

"Be responsible have a bucket of wind or a spotter downwind some very simple things, do what I do and practice safe fireworks, I do that every time," Nettles says.  

Nettles says the guidelines discussed by the county commissioners are good, but he and his attorney asked for less burdensome rules while still keeping the safety factor intact.

"The current guidelines as they are set right now are for the most part my traditional safety messages and we're working on a compromise with the county officials right now just so the guidelines are a little bit smoother," Nettles says. 

When we last spoke to Judge Gossom he was still fine-tuning the order to try to satisfy both safety concerns and retailers.

So at last report the judge has not signed off on the order and you can set off fireworks until the order is signed. But he advises everyone to use common sense and have water on hand. We will keep you updated once we know more.

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