From the Parker County Judge’s Office
With dry conditions worsening and the drought index increasing, Parker County Judge Pat Deen has ordered an additional 7 day emergency burn ban in place at the recommendation of Fire Marshal/EMC Sean Hughes.
Parker County’s Keetch-Byram Drought Index has continued to rise due to the hot and dry conditions across North Texas over the past week.
“Our KBDI has risen from 550 to an average of 613 across the county, which is a significant rise,” Hughes said. “We are actually higher than some of our neighboring counties, so it is very important that we remain vigilant.”
Deen said his order will continue the ban through next Friday.
“If we need to do another emergency burn ban order next Friday, I will,” he said. “We will have this as an item on our next Commissioners Court agenda as well. If we do not get any rain before then, we will look at the court issuing a longer burn ban.”
Hughes said conditions are ripe for rapidly spreading fires, due to the heavy fuel load, which is attributed to the significant rains the area saw through Spring and early Summer.
“Any burning could lead to grass fires, so we just ask our residents to be careful,” Hughes said. “If you see smoke, report it to
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