A firefighter shows the burn results of a bottle rocket during a demonstration about firework safety on the Fourth of July on June 28, 2019.
A firefighter shows the burn results of a bottle rocket during a demonstration about firework safety on the Fourth of July. Credit: Stephanie Marquez / San Antonio Report

While rains in June mean fire hazards are minimal, Bexar County’s fire marshal urged caution in setting off fireworks during the Fourth of July holiday.

During a safety demonstration Friday at the Emergency Services District 2 Station, the Fire Marshal’s Office showed how dangerous fireworks can be if used improperly.

In the demonstration, fire officials set off the most common type of fireworks, like firecrackers and bottle rockets. Using watermelons, they showed how fireworks can scorch the fruit’s flesh and pack enough explosive power to destroy a large melon.

If you’re going to use fireworks, choosing a safe location is key, said Bexar County Fire Marshal Chris Lopez. The use of fireworks is prohibited within San Antonio’s city limits.

“What we recommend is for you to go to an area where you have very short grass, have 300 feet in every direction around you, and some type of water supply,” he said. “Make sure when you are using these fireworks you know where they are going to end up.”

While fireworks are permitted in the unincorporated areas of Bexar County,  Emergency Services Chief Ralph Rodriguez noted that no fireworks are truly safe regardless of where they are used.

“We encourage those that want to see fireworks to go and see a display that is being put on by professionals,” Rodriguez said. “However, if they choose to discharge their own fireworks, we are holding these demonstrations so they can do that safety.”

Rodriguez said the most common types of fireworks-related incidents emergency services personnel see are eye injuries, severe burns, and house fires.

Although recent rains have ensured that most vegetation will not burn readily, those conditions could change rapidly, officials said, and weeds and grasses can still catch fire. The Bexar County Public Safety Communications Center will operate a fireworks hotline – 210-335-FIRE – from Sunday, June 30, through Friday, July 5, that residents can call to report violations or dangerous use of fireworks.

“Everybody wants to have fun when you are celebrating our nation’s Independence Day – that’s what it’s all about,” Lopez said. “We encourage that. We want people to have fun, but most importantly we want them to do it in a safe manner.”

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Laura Morales

Laura Morales is a freshman studying journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a contributor to The Daily Texan.