Harris County commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a countywide burn ban in unincorporated areas of Harris County during their Oct. 25 meeting.

The ban will remain in effect until the Texas A&M Forest Service determines drought conditions no longer exist in the county or after 90 days have passed from the adoption of the ban. An earlier burn ban during the summer lasted from June 28-Aug. 23.

Per Sec. 352.081 of the Harris County Fire Code, the county can implement a burn ban when the Keetch-Byram Drought Index average is 575 or greater. The index ranges from 0-800, with 800 representing absolutely dry conditions. According to Brandi Dumas, the communications manager for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s office, the average KBDI index in Harris County was 620 on Oct. 24.

“The burn ban is meant to ensure the safety of our residents and their properties,” Fire Marshal Laurie L. Christensen said in a statement. “We want to encourage residents to adhere to wildfire risk education and preparedness at all times yet, especially in these very dry conditions.”

Residents may still host backyard cookouts and barbecues and conduct outdoor burning in enclosures that contain flames and sparks, according to an Oct. 25 news release. Violating the ban is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine.

According to the release, 144 Texas counties have enacted burn bans, including Galveston, Waller, Chambers and Liberty County.