While conditions in Montgomery County are drier than normal this time of year, they are not as severe as in 2011, when the county had a historic fire season and made a disaster declaration, according to a June 29 Montgomery County Fire Marshal Office news release.
“I would say risk is very high. We assisted Grimes County on multiple fires on June 27. One of them threatening multiple structures but no structures lost, and fire was about 35 acres. ... Montgomery County is watching the Keetch Byram Drought Index and will implement [a] burn ban if indicated,” said Brian Edwards, Montgomery County Emergency Services District No. 2 fire chief, in an email.
Williams said in an interview the county has a year-round trash-burning ban that other counties do not have, and trash fires are what lead to the majority of wildfires, so there is not a need yet for a total burn ban in the county.
Williams said the county is awaiting the forecasted rain. If there is no rainfall by the week of July 4, then the county will look at declaring a total burn ban in the near future.
Magnolia Fire Department Chief Jeff Hevey said in an interview Montgomery County is not as dry as Harris County, which announced a burn ban June 28, Community Impact Newspaper reported.
Hevey said the MFD has responded to six incidents of vegetation and brush fires since June 1. These have been smaller fires and easier to manage, especially with the wind staying under 10 mph, he said.
However, county and fire department officials are encouraging residents to postpone burning natural products until rain arrives, to not leave burning piles unattended and to have water nearby; residents are also reminded not to burn trash as it is illegal.
Williams said the county responded to about four small fires a day due to fireworks the weekend of June 24-26, but officials have not responded to any since June 27 as of publication.
Firework displays and sales are continuing in the county; Williams said the county does not have the authority to ban fireworks, and burn bans do not apply to fireworks. The only way to ban fireworks is for a disaster to be declared; Williams stressed the county is not at the same point it was at in 2011 when a disaster declaration was issued.
“Alcohol and fireworks don’t mix. Be sober. Use caution. Follow directions,” Williams said.