Monday afternoon Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux signed a full ban of fireworks in Orange County. “It bans all sales of all fireworks and it bans all usage of fireworks in Orange County,” said Thibodeaux.

“It’s one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make. I know people might think it’s an easy decision, but it’s not. Your affecting some people’s livelihood which is seasonal. It’s kinda like telling everybody they can’t eat apple pie and ice cream on the Fourth of July, the American traditions. It’s something that has to be done to ensure the safety of the citizens.”

The ban is in response to the serious drought conditions in Southeast Texas. Jeff Kelley the emergency management coordinator said 66 percent of Texas is considered under an exceptional drought. “We have a KBDI (the Keetch-Byram Drought Index) average of 736,” said Kelley. “I can’t remember a time in my career it being that high.” The scale that only goes to 800 measures drought conditions.

A burn ban for the county has been in effect since April. A ban on aerial fireworks was put in place June 6.

Orange and Jefferson Counties were the only regional counties of Southeast Texas not under a full ban.

After Thibodeaux signed the disaster declaration the paperwork was sent to Gov. Rick Perry, who has 60 hours to act open it. Once the governor sends the paperwork back with his okay, the court has seven days to ratify the ban.

A special meeting of commissioners court will reconvene at 10 a.m., Friday to vote as a unit to continue the firework ban.

“We can’t afford any wildfires right now. They cost a lot of money to fight. You might get loss of life; loss of property. Unfortunately [the ban] is just something the weather has forced us to do,” said Thibodeaux.

Parts of Orange County received about an inch of rain Monday and Tuesday. “The key factor was it was not enough to make a difference in our drought. When you’re 20 inches behind on rainfall, one or two inches is not going to make that much difference.”

“I didn’t really want to make that decision, but I had to. That’s the position I’m in. I have to make decisions nobody else wants to make.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick signed a full ban on fireworks Tuesday completing a total ban in Southeast Texas.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.