HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — On Tuesday, a burn ban was put in place in Harris County, joining 170 other Texas counties. However, fireworks are still allowed in the county, but that could change by the 4th of July.
The Harris County Fire Marshal said they’ve already brought in extra staff for the weekend because they’re concerned.
Harris County Fire Marshal Laurie Christensen recommended the burn ban. Galveston, Waller, Fort Bend, Brazoria, and Liberty Counties already had burn bans in place too. This comes as most of Texas is in a drought, causing dangerous fire conditions.
Christenson says over the past 10 days they’ve seen the number of grass fires skyrocket.
“We’ve had 274 outdoor grass fires,” Christensen explained. “This is extremely high. On average we might have 10 a week.”
Some of the culprits that sparked these fires included discarded cigarettes, the sparks on lawn mowers and trains, and fireworks.
Despite the burn bans, fireworks are still allowed. It would take an emergency declaration by the county to stop those, which Christenson says could still happen.
“We are very concerned. And we always bring all of our staff in on July 4, but we are actually ramping up some additional staff this weekend,” he said. “It’s really turning into almost like an emergency action plan for the ‘in case.'”
Fire officials are asking that residents be extra careful going into the holiday weekend. Open flames are banned, including burning yard debris, but Christensen also recommends people remove debris from their gutters to stop it from sparking, have water nearby while grilling or setting off fireworks, or even better, don’t set off fireworks at all.
“If you can go to a public display that would probably be the safest thing for you to do this year.”
A list of public fireworks displays in the county can be found on the Harris County Fire Marshal's website.