Both Harrison and Marion Counties imposed a burn ban Tuesday morning, prohibiting outdoor burning in the unincorporated areas of the respective counties.
“The commissioners court finds that circumstances present in all or part of the unincorporated area of the county create a public safety hazard that would be exacerbated by outdoor burning,” Harrison County’s burn ban order states.
The 90-day order was approved on Tuesday during the Harrison County Commissioners Court meeting, and went into effect immediately after.
Marion County’s order was also approved at its commissioners court meeting Tuesday and ordered that the ban go into effect at 5 p.m. that day, County Judge Leward LeFleur said. The countywide burn ban will be in effect until the area receives substantial rainfall, county officials said.
“It’s pretty dry,” LeFleur said of conditions.
“Real dry,” Commissioner J.R. Ashley concurred.
Assistant Harrison County Fire Marshal Duana Couch said her office will not tolerate anyone violating the county’s order.
“We will issue citations,” she warned.
A violation of the order is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $500.
“We ask people to be aware of the danger it can cause as far as their structures, their properties and themselves,” said Couch.
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, which predicts the likelihood of wildfires based on soil moisture and other conditions related to drought, recommends a burn ban once counties exceed the 575 mark.
Couch said Harrison County’s minimum average was at the 470 mark and maximum was at 753. As of Tuesday, the average was 622 and predicted to increase.
“We continue to climb with the forecast predicting nothing but dry, hot days,” Couch advised.
The 90-day burn ban will be in place for the entire county unless restrictions are terminated earlier based on a determination made by the commissioners court or county judge, upon recommendation of the fire marshal, based on a determination that the circumstances that required the order no longer exist.
According to the order, outdoor burning is prohibited with the exception of outdoor cooking only in enclosed pits or grills. Further, the order prohibits outdoor burning in barrels.
“This order does not prohibit outdoor burning activities related to public health and safety that are authorized by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for firefighter training; public utility, natural gas pipeline or mining operations; planting or harvesting of agricultural crops; or burns that are conducted by a prescribed burn manager certified under Natural Resources Code and meet the standards of Natural Resources Code,” Harrison County’s order states.