Montgomery County lifts burn ban

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Updated Aug. 25 at 2:26 p.m.

Due to recent rainfall, the Montgomery County fire marshal’s office announced Aug. 25 the residential outdoor burn ban in unincorporated areas has been lifted. Commercial burning and residential garbage burning remains prohibited year round.

“Residents in unincorporated areas may now burn small limbs and brush gathered on their own residential property,” according to a statement by the fire marshal’s office. “Brush and tree debris may not be hauled in to be burned, and burning of rubbish or household garbage is prohibited year round in subdivisions or on less than 5 acres of land. Commercial businesses may not burn at any time, and land clearing operations must comply with state environmental regulations.”

Posted Aug. 11 at 12:14 p.m.

Montgomery County Commissioners Court unanimously voted Aug. 11 to enact a burn ban effective immediately at the request of Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams.

“We have a period where we do education before enforcement typically early in the burn ban,” Williams said. “We attempt to educate the public, and repeat offenders or an egregious offense will be cited. If outdoor burning gets out of control and causes damage, it is subject to citation under the reckless damage statute, and any police officer can write those citations as well.”

The burn ban was put into place due to the rising Keetch-Byram Drought Index in the area, which is now at 677 on a scale of 1 to 800, Williams said. However, the county is not in a long-term drought similar to the conditions in 2011 and is expected to experience above average precipitation in the coming months as a result of the El Niño weather patterns, he said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued an El Niño advisory in March, which means the Pacific Ocean is seeing unusually warm temperatures, according to the NOAA website.

“[A drought index ranking of] 700 represents an extreme level,” Williams said. “It looks like we’ll be there by the weekend. Our heat has really driven our moisture deficit up.”

The burn ban will be in effect for the next 90 days. During the Aug. 11 meeting, Montgomery County commissioners unanimously voted to allow Williams the authority to rescind the ban before the designated 90 days with a significant increase in rainfall.

“It’s generally when we see significant rainfall, and it drops our index closer to 600,” Williams said. “It takes at least a quarter-inch of rain just to stop the daily rise of the index. I’ll anticipate [the burn ban]will probably be in effect until Labor Day when we start getting those September rains.”

For more information on the burn ban, visit the Montgomery County fire marshal’s website.

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