FIREWORKS AND GRILLING ARE NOT PART OF A BAN
On Tuesday morning, Montgomery County Commissioners Walker and Noack and Judge Keough heard from Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams on the need for a burn ban. Commissioners pointed out the surrounding counties were already under a ban. Williams explained that Montgomery County is the only county in the state that since 2000 has made it illegal to burn trash and household garbage. That is one of the primary causes of wildfires. He explained that the humidity is too high at this time to promote a large-scale fire as we saw in 2011. Many of the fire burning across the state is not in piney woods but open large pastures of hundreds if not thousands of acres when fire can move quickly. Over the holiday weekend, firefighters responded to almost 1000 calls in Montgomery County. Of those only 34 were brush fires and all but one was less than one-quarter of an acre. The one which was off FM 149 was almost seven acres but it was believed to have been caused by last week’s lightning storm and just kindled for days until the winds were right. A burn ban DOES NOT INCLUDE FIREWORKS. Many people asked over the weekend why a burn ban was not in effect with the fireworks. The only way to ban fireworks is not a burn ban but a DISASTER DECLARATION, such as the one put in place during the 2011 wildfires that swept the county. In 2011 he explained we have similar dry conditions, however, a tropical storm moved into Louisiana putting Montgomery County on the dry side with north winds in excess of 30 miles per hour. A burn ban also does not stop outdoor grilling. It stops burning of leaves and brush but as he said it was too hot for people to be raking and burning leaves. In addition, many contractors have been clearing land and burning the brush and trees. It is illegal for a commercial burn unless it is in a pit with an approved blower which causes the fire to burn hotter and eliminates excessive smoke. The ban is in effect for 30-days at which time it will be evaluated.
TEXAS LAW REGARDING FIREWORKS AND DROUGHT CONDITIONS
Sec. 352.051. REGULATION OF RESTRICTED FIREWORKS. (a) For the purposes of this section the following definitions shall apply:
(1) “Restricted fireworks” means only those items classified under 49 C.F.R. Sec. 173.100(r)(2) (10-1-86 edition), as “skyrockets with sticks” and “missiles with fins”.
(2) “Drought conditions” means the existence immediately preceding or during the fireworks season of a Keetch-Byram Drought Index of 575 or greater.
The KBI Index was well below the 575 mark in Montgomery County