BURN BAN IN PLACE
From the Parker County Judge’s office
With Parker County experiencing high heat and low humidity, and no rain expected in the near future, Parker County Judge Pat Deen has ordered a seven-day emergency burn ban in place as the threat of wildfire continues to grow across the county.
“As we all know, we are currently experiencing extremely dry and hot conditions in Parker County,” Deen said. “When conditions are this dry, fires can happen very easily and then spread very quickly. We want to do everything we can to minimize the potential of Wildfires.”
“We are already seeing late summer fuel conditions,” said Sean Hughes, the Parker County Fire Marshal. “We currently have conditions that would allow a small fire to grow large very quickly. We work closely with the Texas A&M Forest Service in Granbury and one of the products that we consider in our risk and potential for fires is the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI).” The KBDI is an index that is considered in determining fire potential and today Parker County increased by 10 points to the 550 mark. The index of 550 puts us at a higher value than some of our neighboring counties. As the County movesforward through the summer, with no rain, this KBDI index will continue to rise daily. Hughes said, with the dry conditions we currently have in Parker County, any burning could easily lead to a grass fire.
“We urge people to be vigilant and to report any grassfires to 911 immediately,” Hughes said. The burn ban is for seven days and is set to expire at 7:00 a.m. on August 16, unless it is extended by another emergency order or extended by Commissioners’ Court.
Violation of the burn ban is a Class C Misdemeanor and could result in a fine of up to $500 plus court costs as well as civil penalties if a fire spreads to another person’s property and causes damage.
Violations include the use of combustible materials, including outdoor welding, however, where welding must be performed in the field, the following mitigating efforts will be in force until the burn ban has expired:
- All areas where welding, cutting or grinding operations are being performed will be free of vegetation for at least twenty five feet in all directions;
- Surface around welding area will be wetted down;
- Wind speeds must be no more than 20 miles per hour while performing welding, cutting or grinding operations outside of barriers or enclosures;
- A dedicated fire watch person will attend each welder, cutter, grinder and any activity that causes a spark;
- A minimum of one (1) water pressure fire extinguisher per fire watch person is required;
- Each site will have cellular telephone communications for emergency response;
- All welding, cutting and grinding operations may be performed in a total welding enclosure, or “welding box”, that is sufficiently high to control sparks and includes a fire retardant cover over the top. Winds speeds must not exceed 30 miles per hour while utilizing an enclosure;
- Where welding (above ground and sub-surface) is required in an area where there is a 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;
- If an emergency exists where welding has to be performed, the Fire Marshal may issue a temporary exception to the order.
“Conditions are dry enough that grass and vegetation can be easily ignited if proper precaution and care is not taken,” Hughes said.