UPDATED: Friday, April 13, 2012 - 8:54am
MCLENNAN COUNTY -- It's a tradition to light fireworks on the Fourth of July, a tradition that may stop this summer as the drought gets worse in Central Texas.
"Sparklers, any kind of heat source like that will start a fire right now," says Terrance Sindered with the Texas Forest Service.
McLennan County is considering a ban on fireworks if the drought index rises, but owner of American Fireworks, Chester Davis, says that could put him in debt.
"We have to buy our product a year in advance. We've had to pay our leases, we've still got payments on our properties and buildings there in McLennan County, we've hired teachers and we're trying to put people to work," says Davis.
To save his business this year, Davis has offered County Judge Jim Lewis an alternative to banning the sale completely.
"Instead of selling 11 days, we'll sell four days and voluntarily give up stick rockets and missiles which we believe in the firework industry are, in dry conditions, 99 percent of the problem."
Businesses won't be the only ones affected if fireworks are banned. A grant program gives two percent of fireworks sales to the Forest Service to buy new equipment.
"It's kind of a catch 22 there because of the fact that it does affect the grant program, and also it affects fire suppression, too," says Sindered.
The county is expected to vote on a ban Tuesday. Spokesperson for Judge Lewis says a ban would be likely if the drought index rises to 575, and right now we are at 550.