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On Friday, August 3, Smith County issued a burn ban due to rapidly increasing wildfire conditions.

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Tyler, Texas 75702

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County News

Smith County Issues Burn Ban

The Smith County Commissioners Court voted on August 7, to continue a burn ban issued last week for Smith County.

Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson said the area was continuing to see dry conditions, low humidity and winds, which combined create a great risk for wildfires. Each day, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) for Smith County has climbed, and on Tuesday morning it was at 686, she said. Used to determine forest fire potential, the KBDI ranges from 0 to 800. In the past, Smith County has issued a burn ban when the drought index falls around 700.

Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said after Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran issued a burn ban on August 3, they still had several people burning over the weekend.  

Commissioner Terry Phillips thanked Moran for issuing the burn ban on Friday. “It was needed, he said.”

Moran said he talked to the fire marshal, as well as neighboring counties, before making the decision on Friday.

“I felt like going into the weekend that it was the safest thing to do for the health and safety of our community to go ahead and put that on,” Moran said.

Mrs. McCoy-Wasson recommended the Commissioners Court ratify Moran’s order to keep the burn ban in place. If Smith County receives rain as forecasted later this week, she said she would need to look at the conditions before considering whether to lift the burn ban.

Receiving rain does not automatically lift a burn ban.

Moran agreed, and said the county would need to see a substantial amount of rain for the burn ban to be rescinded.

The “Order Prohibiting Outdoor Burning” prohibits all outdoor burning for 90 days, unless the restrictions are terminated earlier.

Anyone needing more information about available assistance, or anyone with questions related to the burn ban, call the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office at 903-590-2655.  

Smith County Burn Ban Restrictions – What You Can and Can’t Do

Actions Prohibited:  A person violates this order if he or she burns any combustible material outside of an incorporated city limits, or orders such burning by others.

Combustible materials include, but are not limited to, the use of all fireworks; all tobacco products which are discarded, still burning; the use of burn barrels, fire pits, campfires, and any other activity that could result in an outdoor fire.

It does not include the use of vessels specifically designed for the preparation of food that contain all open flames and flammable materials and have enclosed lids.

ALL persons welding outdoors must notify and register with the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office at 903-590-2652 before beginning operations.  After 5 p.m. and weekends, call 903-566-6600.

Welding Operations shall be prohibited with the exception of welding operations conducted under the following guidelines:

  1. A 30’ area clear of any combustible materials where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed;
  2. A 30’ area clear of any combustible materials is required with an enclosure that is covered;
  3. Anything elevated above 20’ - the radius will increase by two feet for every elevated foot;
  4. Surface around area will be wetted down;
  5. Wind Speed must be less than 15 mph (maximum);
  6. Relative humidity must be above 30 percent;                       
  7. One fire guard watching with pressurized extinguishers on site for every person welding, cutting, or grinding; 
  8. Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response;
  9. All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure, or “welding box,” that is sufficiently high enough to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top. Wind speeds must not exceed 30 mph while utilizing an enclosure;

Where welding (above ground and sub-surface) is required in an area where there is potential for a hazardous atmosphere, barriers will be substituted for total enclosures (e.g. “wind walls”) to prevent sparks from coming in contact with any combustible material. The barriers will be installed to allow ventilation of the work area and ingress and egress to the work area for personnel safety. Sub-surface, or “bell hole” welding and grinding operations within approved excavations are allowed if all other mitigation efforts are included.

  

August 3, 2018 News Release:

On Friday, August 3, Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran issued a burn ban due to rapidly increasing wildfire conditions.

Moran issued the “Order Prohibiting Outdoor Burning” after receiving the recommendation from the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office and Office of Emergency Management.

Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson said in the last two days, fire departments battled six fires burning about 35 acres in Smith County. On Thursday, the humidity dropped dangerously low and winds picked up, increasing the risk of wildfires. She said they are expecting the conditions to worsen over the weekend.

Moran’s order prohibits all outdoor burning for 90 days, unless the restrictions are terminated earlier. The Smith County Commissioners Court will consider ratifying Moran’s order issuing a burn ban at its regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, August 7.

On Friday morning, the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) for Smith County was 667. Used to determine forest fire potential, the KBDI ranges from 0 to 800. In the past, Smith County has issued a burn ban when the drought index falls around 700.

“The current hot, dry weather poses a serious threat of wildfires throughout Smith County, making it necessary to issue a burn ban until further notice,” Moran said.

He cautioned all Smith County residents to consider the seriousness of the burn ban.

Anyone needing more information about available assistance, or anyone with questions related to the burn ban, call the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office at 903-590-2655.  

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