Nothing screams "Happy Fourth of July" like shooting off enough explosives to annoy your neighbors and scare all the dogs in the neighborhood. This year, you still might be able to; it’s just not going to be with aerial fireworks.

After listening to a presentation on Thursday (5/20) regarding the current status of El Paso County’s drought and what our fire risk is as determined by the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, El Paso County Commissioners unanimously voted to ban the sale of fireworks with sticks and missiles with fins ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

The KBDI is what is used to ascertain potential fire risks brought on by drought conditions. It must reach at least 575 points in order for a ban to be realized. County Commissioners were informed El Paso County currently sits at 715 on the KBDI scale, and is listed being at a “high risk” fire-potential with current drought conditions described as “extreme.”

Because the county has far exceeded the drought threshold, El Paso County Judge Ricardo Samaniego could issue an all-out ban right now, but such a declaration would only be good for 60 hours, so instead Commissioners agreed to ban “sticks and fins” now so that vendors know in advance not to carry that type of inventory.

County Judge Samaniego said they would re-visit the topic closer to the 4th and see where things are at then. If the county doesn’t receive a substantial amount of rainfall in the next several weeks, or if Samaniego feels the fire danger remains too high he can ban the use and sale of all fireworks as he did last year.

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