Erath County commissioners held a special meeting Friday to consider possible exceptions to the county-wide burn ban.
The meeting was called following a request by county resident Jay Mills who asked that the court grant exceptions to the ban. Mills told the court at Monday’s regular meeting that he has a property where he needs to burn brush and debris to prepare for planting of improved grasses.
“Time is of the essence,” Mills said. “If I don’t get the land cleared and the grass planted, the opportunity will be lost.”
Mills’ attorney, Gale Warren, who was also present at Monday’s meeting, said he and his client were both aware that the ban had impacted a good number of county residents and asked the court to consider exceptions to the ban.
Although the commissioners and County Judge Tab Thompson agreed that the prohibition on burning continues to affect a great number of citizens, Friday’s meeting ended with no exceptions being allowed.
With some regret, Thompson explained that the court is not looking to create a hardship for county residents but instead working to ensure the safety of all citizens.
Referring to recent fires that have scorched hundreds of thousands of acres across the state, Thompson said, “We do not have to look far to see that a threat and danger exists; due to that danger, we have to act sensible and act in the interest of the county.”
The decision came following a proclamation issued by Gov. Rick Perry and filed with the secretary of state Thursday.
The proclamation lists Erath County as one of 216 Texas counties facing extreme fire danger.
Thompson received notification that, under Texas Administrative Code, no burning shall be allowed if a current governor and/or presidential declaration of emergency or disaster for fire is in effect in the county where the exemption is sought.
“The county-wide burn ban is on and burning is strictly prohibited,” Thompson said. “The ban in now reinforced and supported by the governor’s proclamation and the application of the state’s administrative code.”
County Attorney Carey Fraser added, “because the governor has declared a state of disaster, we and 215 other Texas counties, are both obligated and required to enforce the ban.”