NEW CANEY — In light of the current fire danger, Pct. 4 officials would like to remind East County residents of the countywide burn ban. The National Weather Service also issued a “Red Flag Warning” on Thursday for Montgomery County and all surrounding counties. New Caney Fire Chief Jeff Taylor met with Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts on Thursday to discuss the issue.
“My family’s in the forest products business and I’ve seen the catastrophic damage wildfires can do- not only in the timberlands, but also to homes, businesses and other structures,” Judge Metts said. “It’s extremely dangerous now with the high winds and low humidity, so we’re going to support the fire departments and encourage everyone to play by the rules and not burn during this time.”
Chief Taylor said the current weather conditions represent an “extremely high” fire danger.
“The dry conditions we’re experiencing in East Montgomery County make it incredibly dangerous to do any kind of burning whatsoever, including cleaning of the yard, etc.,” Chief Taylor said. “It takes just minutes for a fire to get out of control.”
“We had a good example earlier this week, when people were burning in their yard, went inside to eat lunch and when they came out they’d burned the side of their neighbor’s house,” he said.
Last week, the New Caney Fire Department, assisted by many others, battled a huge fire off of FM 1485.
“Due to the illegal dumping on that property, it was our largest challenge as far as extinguishing a fire this year,” Chief Taylor said. “It started around 4 on Saturday and we finished on Thursday.”
The fire encompassed about 20 acres, and approximately seven of those were covered with illegally dumped tires. Fire departments from Porter, Splendora, Huffman, Cleveland and The Texas Forest Service assisted in the effort.
“The firefighters did an outstanding job,” Chief Taylor said.
The heavy smoke made conditions miserable for residents in nearby neighborhoods, he said. The cause of that fire remains under investigation.
Pct. 4 Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden said he wants residents to be aware that citations may be issued for illegal burning.
“I’d like to see everybody observe the burn ban that’s in place so citations won’t be an issue,” Constable Hayden said.
Judge Metts said his court will take a “tough stance” on illegal burning.
“We’re serious about this,” he said. “We don’t want people to lose their vehicles, their homes or even worse – their lives and that can happen in this type of situation.”
“We hear a lot of excuse sand that’s why we’re reminding people, just like the Fire Marshall, the Commissioners and numerous others have done,” Judge Metts said. “We’re all trying to get the word out and let everyone know so there is no excuse.”
Chief Taylor asks everyone to discuss the burn ban with their families and neighbors. He also reminds residents that even when there is rain, that will not mean outdoor burning is okay or that the burn ban is lifted.
“With the conditions we have right now, it would probably take a tropical storm to make outdoor burning safe,” he said.