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Fireworks Likely to Blame for 57 Travis County Fires

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

The Austin Fire Department says there were 57 grass and brush fires in Travis County over the Fourth of July, 30 of those fires were within the Austin city limits.

The fire department believes many of the fires were caused by fireworks.

"Certainly these smaller grass fires can extend to homes and businesses. And you know there is always the chance of people getting injured using the fireworks," AFD Battalion Chief Thayer Smith said.

Fireworks are banned in the city. Those caught using them could face a $568 fine. Offenders could also face a felony charge if the fireworks cause property damage or hurt someone.

"We always suggest that you take part in the shows that the city puts on and do not pop the fireworks in the city limits," Smith said.

Smith says the fire risk is high because of recent dry weather. Travis, Bastrop and Caldwell Counties are under burn bans.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports, in 2010, an estimated 15,500 fires were started by fireworks and 8,600 people treated for firework-related injuries. The report also says there are more fires on the average Fourth of July than any other day of the year.

Sebastian Herrera is an intern reporter for KUT News. He is also a sports writer for The Daily Texan and a journalism student at the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently working towards his bachelor's degree and concentration in sports journalism. Sebastian was born in Bogotá, Colombia and grew up in Dallas, TX.
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