GREENVILLE - Monday’s rains did little to improve the dry conditions in Hunt County, prompting an emergency order Tuesday prohibiting burning in unincorporated parts of the county.
The emergency declaration will expire in 7 days. However, Director of the Hunt County Office of Homeland Security Richard Hill has placed the item on the August 14 commissioners court agenda to possibly extend the restriction for 90 days.
As the heat, low humidity, winds and lack of rainfall persist – creating ripe conditions for wildfires - county commissioners across the region are taking up the issue.
A ban on outdoor burning was approved Monday in Lamar County. Collin, Kaufman and Rockwall counties are also under the restriction. Roughly 125 Texas counties were under the ban as of Tuesday afternoon. In Oklahoma, all 77 counties are under a ban on outdoor burning.
Hill stated Tuesday that according to the Keetch-Byram Drought Index, Hunt County is in the 600 to 700 classification. The index of 575 is somewhat the indicator of drought conditions.
Burn bans are primarily geared toward outdoor burning of things like trash. This order also restricts the outdoor use of welding, cutting torches and other similar tools unless a separate individual is present to observe for fires and sparks and to have some type of fire extinguisher present.
Outdoor cooking is not prohibited, but is restricted to an enclosed apparatus, designed for cooking purposes. The ban also does not prohibit outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety authorized by the Texas Natural Resources Commission, including burning for firefighter training or planting or harvesting of agricultural crops.
Violation of a burn ban can result in a criminal fine of up to $500.