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Officials share tips for safe fireworks season

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Posted: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 12:00 am

SEGUIN — Everybody rings in the new year differently.

Some eat black-eyed peas for luck. Some toast with champagne. And some watch as the ball drops in Times Square or lighted displays while the Boston Pops Orchestra plays in the background.

Others will choose to make their own pyrotechnic display.

And as long as they live in the unincorporated areas county, it’s OK, as long as it is done safely, said Seguin Fire Marshal Greg Dreiss.

“Anybody found to be in possession of fireworks with-in city limits — any of the cities in Guadalupe County — will be ticketed and their fireworks will be confiscated,” he said. “The fine on the tickets can be up to $2,000.”

Recent rains, followed by cold snaps and freezing weather, have created a fuel which can make shooting off fireworks a hazard, said Guadalupe County Fire Marshal David Padula.

“Dead and dry grass are a major threat,” he said. “We have had a couple of cold mornings, a couple of freezes that killed the grass and dead grass does not come back to life, it just burns. If you do choose to shoot off fireworks, have a water source nearby.”

Padula urges residents not to hesitate in calling in help if they see a fire.

“In the event there is a fire, call for help. Do not try to put the fire out yourself,” he said. “If you get the fire put out we can always turn around, but I’d rather have the fire department in route. Report fires immediately.”

Dreiss said the best places to shoot off fireworks are improved surfaces or areas that have little to no grass.

“Mow the area down, if the grass is overgrown or use an improved surface,” he said. “Also, watch out for the fallout or debris. It can start a fire just as easily as the actual firework.”

While the aerial pyrotechnics are typically the first ones that come to mind when thinking along the safety lines, Padula said the land-based products can be hazardous as well.

“With the ground fountains, use extreme caution with those, especially around the dead and dry grass,” he said. “They will start fires regardless of what the fireworks industry says.”

Dreiss added that sparklers can be just as dangerous, if not more, than the rest.

“A sparkler puts off 2,000-degree molten metal and it is in your hands,” he said. “Please be extremely careful with these types of fireworks, especially with kids. Make sure there is always adult supervision when handling any type of fireworks.”

When looking for the perfect and safe place to shoot off fireworks, Padula asks that everyone keeps a few things in mind.

“Remember, it is against state law to shoot from a car, at a car or a house,” he said. “If you shoot at a house it could be considered an act of arson. Also, make sure there are no flammable liquids in the area that the fireworks will be shot off or landing. And be courteous of your neighbors when shooting off fireworks.”

Law enforcement and fire officials will be out enforcing the laws on New Year’s Eve, Padula said.

“We just want everybody to have a safe and fun new year,” he said.

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