Burn Ban in Harris County

The Houston metropolitan area remains under drought conditions with no rain in the forecast. This has prompted Harris County to implement a burn ban in unincorporated areas. Bill Stamps has more.
Harris County Commissioners have put in place a burn ban that’s effective immediately and could last three months or more. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett:

"Clearly, we have dry conditions. There’s no rain in the forecast, no measurable rain anyway. The counties around us all have burn bans. We need to go ahead and re-institute it."


Some may be confused on what a burn ban actually means. It doesn’t not mean no fires. Fires are actually still allowed during a ban, they just have to be in an approved container and not on the ground. And who would set fires on the ground you might ask? Harris County Fire Marshall Mike Montgomery says people who live in the county burn things on the ground all the time.

"In certain parts of the county where there isn’t regularly scheduled trash pickup people have been burning household trash for years. And the easiest way to do that is in a metal container such as a with a 55 gallon barrel with a corrugated metal or an expanded grate to keep sparks and embers from escaping."

It’s been so long since there’s been substantial rainfall. Emmett says they wanted to put the ban in placer sooner.

"We would have done it even earlier except this was when the court was scheduled to meet. We didn’t feel like it was worth calling a special meeting and now we don’t meet for a couple of weeks. We needed to get it done today.  Yes, there is a burn ban in unincorporated Harris County."

Locally, firefighters responded to 78 different outdoor fires just this past weekend. Across the state there have been more than 6,000 wildfires damaging hundreds of structures. Officials want to be clear the ban doesn’t mean no barbecuing. Outdoor cooking is fine, but open flames are not.