Waco Fire issues more than 100 fireworks warnings on July 4th

Waco firefighters reported that there were few reports of fires and other public safety incidents on July 4.

Thanks in part to the rainy spring, there were no major fires over the holidays, said Patrick Veselka, deputy chief of operations for the Waco Fire Department. The fire department received 60 emergency calls over the holidays, most of them for medical issues. Six fires were reported, four small grass fires and two dumpster fires, Veselka said.

Fire marshals patrolled the city throughout the evening to detect fireworks, which are banned in Waco. They issued more than 100 verbal warnings and one citation. They confiscated fireworks with an estimated total value of several hundred dollars, he said. The fire department is not aware of any firework-related injuries, Veselka said.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the annual Fourth on the Brazos celebration in Touchdown Alley outside McLane Stadium, which culminated in a 22-minute fireworks display, said Jonathan Cook, Waco’s parks and recreation director. Several thousand more watched the fireworks on the sidelines of the official event, Cook said.

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Fireworks and fun at the City of Waco’s annual Fourth on the Brazos event.

Video material: Rod Aydelotte

Pyro Shows of Texas hosted the show, which followed an evening of concerts and cost more than $30,000.

Cook said Fourth on the Brazos, in its ninth consecutive year, was once again “really successful and smooth” at Touchdown Alley, which was moved from its previous location near the Suspension Bridge because of growing crowds. This year’s attendance was comparable to previous years, he said.

“It’s one of those events that’s just a long-standing tradition in Waco, and it showed through the strength of our community that we come together to celebrate our nation,” Cook said. “We had no issues to report, just very minor (things), not even heat-related illnesses. (It) seemed like everyone was staying hydrated. No safety concerns.”

“And that’s all good news when you’re putting on an event of this caliber.”

Veselka said the fire department had a crew on standby at the Fourth on the Brazos accident and a rescue team was also on the water.

The fireworks began on Thursday at around 9:15 p.m. and lasted just over 22 minutes.

Cook said that so far, reserving parking for the event has not been a problem.

“But just like a big football game at the stadium or going to a concert, there’s a delay in getting people out,” Cook said. “We have a traffic control plan where we work with multiple agencies, and we were all out in less than an hour after the fireworks.”

The site of Baylor University’s Ferrell Center is used as an overflow parking lot, and some people would like to set up there and have a different view of the Brazos River, he said.

“We park people at McLane Stadium first and then use the Ferrell Center, the Law School — Baylor is a great partner in allowing us to use those parking lots,” Cook said. “But like any fireworks show, there’s that 30 to 45 minutes before where everyone’s trying to get to the right place and we have some congestion (traffic). But overall, it was an incredibly smooth event for us and that’s a credit to our community.”

Veselka said he was “glad to see everyone safe” throughout the community and at the Fourth on the Brazos event. Cook said preparing for the fireworks display was exciting, but seeing it become a reality was his favorite part.

“There’s nothing like the loud ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ of the crowd during a fireworks display,” Cook said. “Especially after the finale, that’s why we’re there. There’s something symbolic and traditional about the fireworks and the Fourth of July holiday. So that sounds special to me.”

For those who missed Thursday’s festivities or would like to see another fireworks display, the Speegleville Volunteer Fire Department is hosting a charity fireworks display on Saturday.

The fireworks display begins shortly after dark at Speegleville Elementary School, 100 Maywood Drive, and lasts 15 to 20 minutes.

Participants are asked to bring lawn chairs or blankets. Admission is free. Tickets for games and food stalls are available on site.

Activities like bounce houses, cornhole, obstacle courses and more are included. Tickets for the activities are $1 each.

For more information or to volunteer, email [email protected].