Lack of rainfall and warmer weather has a number of people wondering if the Grayson County area is under a burn ban. The clamor about the question got so loud that Grayson County’s Emergency Management Director Sarah Somers decided to put out a notice to let everyone know where things stand.
Somers said people can always find out the county’s burn ban status by looking at the county’s website under her office and then under outdoor burning. The notice there will either say the county is or isn’t under a burn ban — currently it isn’t under a burn ban.
Generally a burn ban in Grayson County allows people to continue to do recreational activities, like outdoor cookouts but calls for them to refrain from burning trash. However, that is not the last word on when, where and how people can use fire in the unincorporated area of the county.
“(The) State law regulating outdoor burning is ALWAYS in effect,” Somers said in an email. “We like to take the opportunity to remind people that just because we don’t have a burn ban doesn’t mean folks can burn anything, anytime, anywhere.”
On Wednesday, some 60 counties in the state of Texas had burn bans, mostly in west Texas, according to information from Texas A&M Forrest Services.
The Grayson County Commissioners Court considers burn ban-related questions when the KBDI is 650 or above. The KBDI is an index based on temperature estimates and precipitation gathered from weather stations and analyzed by experts at the Texas Forest Service.
On Thursday, the county’s average KDBI was 453, which was up four points from the last seven days. The driest part of the county had a KDBI of 540 and the wettest part had one of 366.
In the recent past, Grayson County’s fire marshal or his assistant was charged with bringing the dry conditions to the attention of the commissioners. However, those positions are currently empty so Somers said the job has reverted to her office.
Her point, however, was that even though the area doesn’t meet the qualifications the county has set out for a burn ban, it is still quite dry in the area and people should inspect to the state law when considering if they can legally burn.
“The Outdoor Burning Rule first prohibits outdoor burning anywhere in Texas, and then allows exceptions for specific situations in which burning is necessary or does not pose a threat to the environment,” that document states. “The rule also prescribes conditions that must be met to protect the environment and avoid other adverse impacts when burning is allowed. If burning seems necessary, but the situation does not fit an exception stated in the rule, then it is possible to request from the TCEQ a special authorization to conduct burning.”
Exceptions include training for firefighters, fires for recreation, ceremonies, cooking or warmth. The rule then lays out a number of exceptions and explanations for things like burning trash, clearing trees or crops and other situations.
It also lays out several things people should make sure to do if they are going to burn, including keeping any burn “downwind, or at least 300 feet away from any neighoring structure” and beginning a burn no earlier than “one hour after sunrise and no later than one hour before sunset.” It also says one should extinguish any smoldering objects or small fires if the smoke will be hazardous to traffic in the area.
To see the whole list of regulations, visit http://www.co.grayson.tx.us/users/OEM/Outdoor_Burning_in_Texas.pdf.