A fireworks ban is now in effect in El Paso County.
County Judge Veronica Escobar issued the ban late Friday evening due to severe drought conditions.
Escobar's declaration prohibits the sale, use and possession of any and all fireworks or pyrotechnics within El Paso County for 60 hours. The ban doesn't affect any professional displays within the municipalities or Fort Bliss.
Escobar is expected to ask Gov. Rick Perry Monday to use his authority to extend this suspension past 60 hours and at least until the termination of the Statewide Drought Declaration or until July 5, 2012, whichever comes latest.
"We just want to exercise as much caution as possible," said Escobar in a phone interview Saturday. "We have volunteer fire departments, we have limited water, so there's absolutely no reason to tempt fate during these challenging times."
Fernando Viramontes, the area manager for TNT Fireworks, said the impact is greater than the court realizes.
"You heard what happened in there," said Viramontes when asked whether he felt his comments had been taken into consideration.
Viramontes, who previously requested to be kept in the loop for such moves, had given his contact information to members of Commisioners Court during a previous session when drought concern first arose. He said the lack of communication was disheartening because he represents several nonprofits who sell fireworks to raise funds and several TNT Fireworks locations.
Escobar said on Monday her office, which announced the disaster declaration, has been in contact with Viramontes in addition to her initial warning during an earlier meeting that her plan to issue such a declaration was made public.
For several weeks, El Paso County has not experienced appreciable rainfall, according to the National Weather Service office in Santa Teresa, NM. Existing drought conditions, with a Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) between 680-700, indicates that El Paso County currently falls under the extreme category with the forecast not set to improve anytime soon.
Escobar has called a special Commissioners Court meeting for 2:30 pm on Wednesday, June 13 in order to discuss extending the Emergency Declaration of Local Disaster.
ABC-7 reporter Matthew Smith contributed to this report.