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San Antonio

Fireworks Safety A High Priority For San Antonio Area

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Joey Palacios
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Texas Public Radio
Cheryl Lawson, left, shows a package of fireworks to Julio Madonado at her stand just outside the San Antonio city limits on Potranco Road.

For many Fourth of July celebrations, fireworks are a staple. While the sale and use of fireworks are banned within San Antonio’s city limits, they are allowed in unincorporated Bexar County. But even then, there are some extra rules this year.

 

Fireworks sales in Bexar County began June 20. Outside Loop 1604 on Potranco Road, there’s a fireworks stand every few blocks — some across the street from each other.

Jessica and Julio Maldonado are siblings and are buying fireworks from Alamo Fireworks for their family’s own celebration Wednesday.

“I love playing with the sparklers — it’s a fun atmosphere with friends and family and enjoying barbeque,” Jessica Maldonado said. “It’s a great time of year.”

The stand is run by Cheryl Lawson and her sister Annette Feller. They’ve been in the fireworks business for about 15 years. For Lawson, fireworks are about safety first.

 

“If I see that they bought something, I ask them ‘Do you know how to do this?’ and then if they don’t, then I take them to explain to them how to do it safely.” Lawson said. “That’s my job.”

That includes taking all the preparations before cracking fireworks and making sure no fires start afterwards.

“They need to make sure a bucket of water that’s close by so if they accidently do set something on fire that they put it out. When they finish then they need to wet it all down to make sure it’s all dead and there’s no sparks alive,” she said.

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Credit Joey Palacios / Texas Public Radio
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Texas Public Radio
Alamo Fireworks on Potranco Road

A burn ban in Bexar County has led to certain fireworks being restricted this year. The Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office said anything that launches like a rocket or has fins is banned, and sellers have voluntarily agreed to not make them available.

 

“Because there have been more than 300 grass fires within Bexar County since the beginning of the year, I would like to thank the participating fireworks vendors who have proactively taken these extra precautionary measures,” said Bexar County Fire Marshal Chris Lopez in a June 27 news release. “With conditions as dry as they are, I urge the public to please exercise extreme caution when setting off fireworks.  The safest way to enjoy fireworks is to watch a public display put on by professionals.”

 

Although, Lawson, still gets questions from customers about them.

 

“Customers come and ask, and I tell them I don’t have rockets, and that if anybody does sell them — that’s against the law, and for right now they can’t do that,” she said.

It's illegal to discharge fireworks within 600 feet of a hospital, veterinary hospital, school, or church ... and within 100 feet of a fuel dispensing station.

 

Residents can report unsafe or illegal firework use by calling 210-335-FIRE.

Safety Tips: Bexar County Fire Marshal's Office

  • Select an area free of dry grasses and other dead vegetation.
  • Do not shoot fireworks in metal or glass containers.
  • Keep a bucket of water or a water hose nearby.
  • Do not use fireworks when the weather forecast calls for winds above 10 mph.
  • Have an adult present and never give fireworks to children.
  • Only use fireworks outdoors.
  • It is against state law to shoot fireworks from a motor vehicle.
  • Never experiment or make your own fireworks.
  • Make sure you only use fireworks purchased from a reliable licensed seller.
  • Light only one firework at a time.
  • Never relight a “dud” firework. If a firework does not work properly, wait 15 to 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water and dispose of it properly.
  • Store fireworks in a cool, dry place. Never throw or point fireworks at other people.
  • Never carry fireworks in your pocket.

Joey Palacios can be reached at Joey@TPR.org and on Twitter at @Joeycules.