FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas — With little rain in the upcoming forecast, burn bans are in place for several Southeast Texas counties due to drought conditions.
On Tuesday, Fort Bend County issued a burn ban. On Wednesday the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office said it will recommend a burn ban to the Commissioner’s Court when it meets next Tuesday.
Drought conditions are monitored by the Keetch Byram Drought Index. KBDI is measured on a scale of 1, which means fully saturated, to 800, which means completely dry.
Mark Flathause, the Fort Bend County Fire Marshall and Emergency Management coordinator, said Fort Bend County is averaging 650 on the KBDI at this time, although some parts of the county measure as high at 710.
This week, Flathause recommended the county put a burn ban in place.
“It’s important to put the burn ban on and let the people know that it is really bad out there,” Flathause said.
Although burn bans do not include fireworks in the state of Texas, they can still be issued under an emergency declaration. Residents should pay close attention to what their county decides ahead of the 4th of July holiday.
A grass fire that sparked on Wednesday in the county is one example as to why the ban is in place. Flathause said on Wednesday, an illegal outdoor burn spread quickly across several acres on FM 762.
“With the wind, it goes so quick that it's hard to keep up,” said Flathause.
Firefighters are on high alert for wildfires across the state.
Fort Bend officials are also keeping an eye on fireworks, which go on sale Friday. Banning fireworks would require an emergency declaration by the county, something Flathause said he’s already recommended.
Fort Bend County Judge KP George said he’d consider it and is weighing the advice.
“We are not decided,” said county judge KP George. “Safety and security of people and property is going to be our number one priority.”
There are no burn bans in place in Montgomery or Harris counties although officials in both counties say they’re watching conditions closely.
The message now is to pay attention to what your county decides. Ignoring burn or fireworks bans can be dangerous and is illegal.