Fireworks won't light up the sky over Ford County this Fourth of July.
The Ford County Commission voted 3-0 Thursday to ban the use of fireworks in the rural areas until the commission's next meeting, set for July 13. The commission may extend the ban at that time.
Vendors may still sell fireworks, but buyers will have to wait to enjoy their fireworks until the ban is lifted.
The county commission followed in the footsteps of the Dodge City Commission, which voted Tuesday to ban fireworks within the city limits. The city ban also applied to the traditional community fireworks display, which has been postponed.
The city may decide to lift its ban at a later date.
Commission Chairman Kim Goodnight said Thursday people wanted to know how the county would respond to the city's decision.
"I don't really know that I've thought this all through, and I don't know that it will work," he said. "Right now, we are engaged in conversation. What I’m asking of you is, what can we do to be at least proactive rather than being reactive to the situation?"
Ford County Fire/EMS Chief Jay Taylor replied: "To be proactive, I would say we could postpone it (fireworks) until a later date."
The county normally allows fireworks year round, as long as people are either on their own property or have another landowner's permission to shoot off fireworks.
But the continuing drought, combined with the city's recent decision to outlaw fireworks, prompted county officials to reconsider.
Dodge City resident Darren Thomas said he thought the county would have to ban fireworks, given current weather conditions.
"If we have a disaster — it gets out there, it gets in the fuel, it goes and it does take out a community or a bunch of houses — we're going to have this room full," he said. "And they're going to be pushing for fireworks to be banned forever."
The ban applies only to rural areas, as the county does not have authority to outlaw fireworks in Dodge City, Bucklin, Ford or Spearville. That decision is up to the individual cities.
Reach Eric Swanson at (620) 408-9917 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.