Austin firefighters and police brace for illegal fireworks

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There are no burn bans in effect in Central Texas right now and that might tempt more people to set off their own illegal fireworks display this Fourth of July.

The Austin Fire Department is ready.

The rules are simple. Inside the city you may have sparklers, glow worms, snakes and smoke bombs.

But if you want something with a bang, something incendiary, something that soars through the sky, you will have to go outside city limits…5,000 feet outside.

Austin had some 60 brush fires last Independence Day, several of those suspected to be caused by fireworks.

“Fourth of July and New Years are two of the highest fire call volumes of the year,” said Capt. Josh Portie of the AFD Wildfire Division. “It gives us an idea what to expect and how to plan for it.”

Their arsenal includes plenty of brush clearing tools and brush trucks. Twelve big units and four new smaller models. The smaller trucks carry 70 gallons of water, the larger trucks carry 500 gallons and they can be replenished.

“They can get us in and out of areas that are completely inaccessible to our conventional fire trucks,” Portie said, “which are not even allowed to leave the roadway.”

You light up at your own risk. Setting illegal fireworks can mean fines of $500 and up, and criminal charges if an injury occurs.

Last year Austin police issued five illegal fireworks citations on the Fourth of July. This year they hope folks settle for some of the area displays such as the large city show this year being held at the Circuit of the Americas.

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