Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional information from the Harris County Fire Marshal's Office.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office announced it would increase its efforts to enforce the county’s burn ban, emphasizing punishment for violations via social media Aug. 8.

According to Brandi Dumas, communications manager for the HCFMO, there have been 737 reported outdoor fires in unincorporated Harris County since the ban was first issued June 28. Dumas said in an email the HCFMO has had to transition more towards enforcement as the number of fires continues to increase.

"When the burn ban was first put into place, the [HCFMO] was responding out to locations where there was reported burning and spent time educating the public about the burn ban," Dumas said. "At the point we are now 40-plus days into the ban, and [with] the steady increase in the amount and size of the fires... the [HCFMO] has determined that to ensure the safety of the community, it is time to step up enforcement."

Violation of the burn ban is a Class C misdemeanor and can carry up to a $500 fine under Texas Local Government Code Section 352.081. Outdoor burning is prohibited except in specific circumstances such as noncommercial cooking or welding, and residents should use extreme caution when cooking outdoors, per informational material from the HCFMO.

Harris County commissioners approved a burn ban in unincorporated areas of Harris County on June 28 which will remain in effect until late September unless the Texas A&M Forest Service determines that drought conditions no longer exist in the county.

Commissioners in neighboring Montgomery County extended their county’s burn ban Aug 2. for an additional 90 days due to continued elevated fire risk conditions.