HARRIS COUNTY – The Harris County Commissioner’s Court approved an outdoor burn ban on Tuesday due to continuous drought conditions in the area.
There are now 144 Texas counties with burn bans, including Harris, Galveston, Waller, Chambers and Liberty counties.
“The burn ban is meant to ensure the safety of our residents and their properties,” said Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen. “We want to encourage residents to adhere to wildfire risk education and preparedness at all times yet, especially in these very dry conditions.”
No outdoor burning is allowed except in an enclosure that contains all flames and/or sparks; outdoor burning activities authorized by TCEQ; approved ceremonial fires; non-commercial cooking such as backyard cookouts and barbeques are allowed; and welding and other “hot work” performed in accordance with county fire code requirements.
Authorities said violation of the ban is a Class “C” misdemeanor, punishable for up to a $500 fine. In addition, any person who starts a fire that causes damage to property without the consent of the owner may be charged with Reckless Damage or Destruction, a Class C misdemeanor, or arson, a felony.
The burn ban will be in effect for 90 days. If conditions approve before 90 days, the Harris County Commissioners said they will lift the ban.
Ten steps to protect your home from wildland fire:
Wildfires can strike homes if you have not taken steps to protect your house and property. The actions and precautions listed below are designed to help you prepare your home and lessen the threat of wildland fire damage to you and your property.
- DO NOT burn on “red Flag” or windy days and think twice before burning outdoors when KBDI approaches 700 or more.
- LPG tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep the area around the tank clear of flammable vegetation.
- Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
- All combustibles such as firewood, wooden picnic tables, boats and stacked lumber should be kept away from structures.
- Clear roof surfaces and gutters regularly to avoid the build-up of flammable materials such as leaves and other debris.
- Remove branches from trees to a height of 15 feet or more.
- In rural areas, clear a fuel break of at least three times the fuel length around all structures.
- Have fire tools handy such as a ladder long enough to reach your roof, a shovel, a rake, and a bucket or two for water.
- Place connected garden hoses at all sides of your home for emergency use.
- Assure that you and your family know all emergency exits from your home.