Harris County, Fort Bend, Brazoria counties issue outdoor burn ban due to drought conditions, high risk of fire dangers

FORT BEND COUNTY – Several counties, including Harris County, have issued an outdoor burn ban due to drought conditions and the high risk of fire dangers.

The bans will limit the use of open flames, which includes the burning of trash, campfires, burn barrels, and other open flame devices that can ignite combustible materials and result in personal injury, property damage, and loss of life.

The City of Houston also announced that it has entered Stage One of its drought contingency plan. The plan calls for water conservation measures when there is an observed drop in annual rainfall amounts and higher-than-normal daily temperatures.

Here’s what the following counties are saying about the burn ban:

Harris County

County Judge Lina Hidalgo announced that the burn ban is in effect, stating that the county is at risk of wildfires with a drought index of 681, compared to the 300 in June 2021.

Hidalgo said no outdoor burning, other than grilling or welding, will be allowed.

“Please be careful. In a drought, sparks, cigarette butts, etc. can burn quickly. Report fires to 911,” she tweeted.

Fort Bend County

Fort Bend County is one of the many counties experiencing drought conditions as extreme record-setting temperatures continue.

“With the passing of the burn ban, I would ask that our Fort Bend County residents also exercise extreme caution with the use of fireworks as they celebrate over the 4th of July weekend,” County Judge KP George said. “Because of the extremely dry conditions, we don’t want to risk the safety of our residents and their property. Additionally, we don’t want to over-extend our fire and emergency medical service personnel due to a high number of preventable emergency calls.”

Based on the Fort Bend County Fire Marshal’s findings, and in alignment with The Keetch-Byram Drought Index, the commissioners’ court came to a consensus that circumstances present in the county can potentially create a public safety hazard. According to the release, the drought index is based on a daily water balance, where a drought factor is balanced with precipitation and soil moisture measurements. The drought index ranges from 0 to 800, where a drought index of 0 represents no moisture depletion, and an index of 800 represents absolutely dry conditions.

Currently, Fort Bend County’s index is at 665 and it is predicted to be over 700 by the weekend, according to the release.

County Judge KP George is authorized to sign an order rescinding this Declaration and Order if he determines, upon consultation with the County Fire Marshal, that drought conditions or hazardous circumstances no longer exist.

Brazoria County

Brazoria County said its Keetch-Byram Drought Index for the county on June 22 was 684 (countywide average) and continues to rise as the Summer heat dries out the soil and vegetation, according to a release. Once the KBDI reaches within the 600-800 range, drought conditions are considered severe, with an increasing concern for wildfires.

This burn ban does not affect the sale or use of fireworks in unincorporated areas.

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