Photo via Flickr/plong (CC BY 2.0)

From Texas Standard:

For the first time in a long time, the Fourth of July in Texas will be red, white, blue – and green. That's thanks to abundant rain so far this year.

The lower risk for wildfires means vendors across the state have the option to sell more types of fireworks. And they say they are also seeing more people interested in lighting up the night sky for this year's fourth.

The Fourth of July is upon us once again.

It's a time for fireworks, parades, barbecues and, of course, plenty of red, white and blue. So, in honor of America's birthday, KUT has compiled a list of Independence Day parades featuring the best fireworks, food and festivities near you in Central Texas.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin Fire Department says there were 57 grass and brush fires in Travis County over the Fourth of July, 30 of those fires were within the Austin city limits.

The fire department believes many of the fires were caused by fireworks.

"Certainly these smaller grass fires can extend to homes and businesses. And you know there is always the chance of people getting injured using the fireworks," AFD Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said.

With a little help from mother nature and the Texas Legislature, fireworks retailers might see a sales boom in the Austin area this Fourth of July.

Last month, Gov. Perry signed HB 1813, which allows Texans to transport and possess fireworks in cities, eliminating previous fines that ranged from $50 to $2,000.

Update: Despite some rain in the forecast for this evening, the City of Austin’s New Year’s Eve event at Auditorium Shores is a go. At least for now.

The city says as long as the skies stick to rain and drizzle and not high winds and thunderstorms… the live music, activities and fireworks will happen.

“Bring your ponchos, bring your umbrellas, bring a lawn chair. But if it’s a little drizzle-y we will hopefully still have an event and still have some fireworks for everybody to enjoy," City of Austin spokesperson Samantha Park says.

If you see, smell or hear fireworks this New Year’s Eve, don’t dial 911. Call 311.

The Austin Fire Department has asked Austin residents to keep the emergency lines free off all firework complaints and to use the city’s 311 service instead.

In light of the ongoing drought, the Fire Department is also reminding citizens that fireworks remain illegal in Austin city limits, and their sale has been banned in Travis County. The fine for possession of fireworks in Austin can be up to $500.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin and Travis County fire departments have responded to dozens of grass and trash fires in the last 24 hours. Crews responded to 29 small grass fires and 11 trash fires.

But, they say, for a hot, dry Fourth of July, there were actually fewer fires than they expected.

Most of the fires are still under investigation but Battalion Chief Thayer Smith says fireworks were likely involved in many.

“When you have 29 grass fires on the 4th of July and on the 3rd of July you only had two, certainly you would expect that the majority of those grass fires are obviously going to be related to fireworks in some form or fashion," said Smith.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Pack Your Picnic: Info on Tonight’s Fireworks Show

Thousands are expected to flock to Auditorium Shores for the Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks.

The symphony will start its performance at 8:30 p.m. The fireworks show will run from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

If you’re planning to attend, leave behind all alcohol, glass and Styrofoam. Smoking is not allowed and neither is grilling – because of the number of people expected to be at Auditorium Shores.

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Travis County is under a burn ban but fireworks are still on sale. The county is allowing fireworks but not recommending their use.

Keith Cooper sells fireworks for an “American Fireworks” stand. He thinks the burn ban is keeping some customers away.

“Sales have started off a little slow this year. People are a little leery of fire. But they’ve been fairly well,” said Cooper. “Of course it always picks up during the holiday. The third and the fourth are always our best days.”

Vendors met with the Fire Marshal’s office yesterday and agreed not to sell winged fireworks, rockets and missiles – that’s because they pose the biggest fire risk.


About 45 fireworks stands will be operating in Travis County ahead of the Fourth of July. Travis County Fire Marshal Hershel Lee says the Keetch-Byram Drought Index is currently at 378, and a fireworks ban requires a drought index of 575.

“We anticipate an increased number of calls this year, just because of an increased level of awareness of people because of last year’s wildfire,” Lee told Travis County commissioners this morning. He urged people to follow these safety guidelines if they use fireworks. Better yet, he said, they should just attend one of several public displays that are planned.

“Every year when consumers have fireworks, the number of fires increase in the unincorporated areas,” he said. “That’s generally due to people not using them appropriately.”

Photo by scottnj

The number of places where you can catch Independence Day fireworks in Central Texas is quickly shrinking. Cedar Park is the latest municipality to announce it is canceling its patriotic pyrotechnics display because of dry conditions and the potential for high winds.

With cities and towns across Central Texas canceling Independence Day fireworks because of tinderbox conditions created by the drought, San Marcos has decided to call off its patriotic pyrotechnics show.

But it's not because of fire concerns; it's a crowd control issue. San Marcos Fire Marshal Ken Bell feared too many people would show up to the show, creating a logistical nightmare. 

Photo by KUT

City officials in Kyle were expecting they would have no choice but to ban their Fourth of July fireworks display, thanks to the ongoing drought. But after talking about it with firefighters and the county, the show is moving ahead after all.

“We thought for a long time it would be [canceled],” City of Kyle spokesman Jerry Hendrix told KUT News. “We have a very safe location. We have clearances from all the fire jurisdictions here in our area. We have contingency plans in place to prevent fires and address them quickly should they start.”

Photo by KUT

With no fireworks in Austin this Independence Day, some patriots may have been planning the trek up to Williamson County to catch the rocket’s red glare. Those plans will have to be canceled. You can count Round Rock’s fireworks display as another victim of the Texas drought.

Photo by SJ photography's photostream

Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe led commissioners today to declare a state of local emergency and ban the sale of fireworks for 60 hours. Biscoe is requesting that Governor Perry extend the fireworks ban through June and over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The initial declaration presented by Judge Biscoe only granted him the authority to proclaim a "local disaster" for seven days. Biscoe asked Travis County Commissioners Court to extend the declaration indefinitely. They were approved the measure today after lunch, but included a provision that would allow Biscoe to lift the ban in the case of heavy rain.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Cramp

Extreme drought could put a damper on some Fourth of July festivities this year. The Travis County Fire Marshal announced today that local authorities will not approve any permits for public fireworks displays.

According to Travis County, the decision came after multiple wildfires have ignited in the past two months. Most recently, a four-alarm brush fire broke out after a transformer caught fire near Hamilton Pool Park.

Thor Delta Missile
Image courtesy Quantum Fireworks

Companies that sell fireworks in Central Texas are adopting a voluntary ban on some flying fireworks because of the dry conditions.  Chester Davis owns American Fireworks and is president of the Texas Pyrotechnic Association.