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Johnson County, A Refuge For Fireworks Among Burn Bans

By Selena Hernandez, CBS 11 News
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JOHNSON COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – Burn bans across many North Texas counties will make it difficult for residents to use fireworks this Independence Day. Johnson County is one of those counties, however selling and shooting fireworks is still allowed in unincorporated areas and designated zones.

“We just provide a place out here where people can come shoot because a lot of people live up in the big cities,” Venus firefighter Ron Hearn said.

The Venus Volunteer Fire Department runs a fireworks stand and safe zone. Yet, the same stand that helps them buy equipment, brush trucks and gear, also ignites concern of unwanted fires in their county.

“It happens every year, there are people, they just pull down a county road, find a place to park and go to town,” Hearn said. “If you get caught, you face a stiff fine and possibility of jail time.”

With neighboring counties selling fireworks, but banning the use of them, Venus Fire officials says they know they’ll be busy with visitors and encourage participants to be cautious.

“They don’t understand just throwing firecrackers on the ground can start a fire. The grass may be green on top, but it’s brown on the bottom,” Hearn said.

Johnson County has become a refuge, of sorts, for those without a place to light up their Fourth.

“We can’t sell out of our store nor could we shoot in McClennan County. So I contacted Venus Volunteer Fire Department to see if I could shoot a big show for them,” firework vendor Dan Fitzgerald said.

“It’s illegal in Mansfield, fines are pretty hefty,” Mansfield resident Dalton Thomas said.

Thomas isn’t taking chances with his bounty of boom: He’ll be celebrating and setting off his fireworks at his friend’s house in Johnson County.

“We wet-down our yard, make sure nothing catches on fire,” resident Cody Johnson said.

And that’s exactly what fire crews suggest residents do to ensure the only flames they see this holiday are from a firework, and not a field.

The Johnson County Sheriffs Office says they’ll have extra deputies patrolling the county making sure people are only using fireworks in designated areas. Ellis County banned the use of all fireworks, and says they too have extra deputies on the road.

Meanwhile, it is legal to use fireworks in unincorporated areas of Tarrant County.

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